The New York Times today seems to be comparing apples and oranges: "Poll Finds Edge for Obama Over G.O.P. Among the Public." I haven't looked through the whole poll to see if there was a question: "Would you rather have a beer with President Obama or with the Republican Party?" but I suspect that it isn't there. So they must be putting numbers for presidential approval next to the generic do you like Democrats or Republicans or somesuch.
I don't pay a lot of attention to polls. I did page through the first several of the Times's poll results and thought that if someone asked me those questions, my likely answer would be "Yes - whatever." I don't usually have that opportunity, though, because my phone has caller id, and if I make the mistake of picking up a polling call, I tell them to take my name off their list.
Part of the problem with polls is that you don't know what people mean by their answers. Here's a rather amazing difference that has no obvious explanation: people are more in favor of "gays and lesbians" in the military than "homosexuals."
It might be interesting to see the results if the Times asked if people would rather have a beer with President Obama or John Bohner. Mitch McConnell?