What does "to eight percent margin" mean?

“Obama’s approval rating remains dismal with self-described Republicans, who disapprove of his performance by an 88 percent to eight percent margin. It’s nearly the inverse image for Democrats, who approve of the job Obama is doing by 88 percent to 11 percent. And more than half - 54 percent - of independents give Obama high marks, compared to 44 percent who do not.”

88% approve and 8% disapprove
People who claim to be Republicans disapprove of his performance by an overwhelming amount: 88 percent disapprove and 8 percent approve

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Does that mean 88-to-8-percent margin? What does “mergin” mean?

I don’t know what “margin” per se means in this context. I cannot think of any word of phrase that can be substituted directly for “margin”.

Thank you, TeacherNia.

“Margin” here means “difference”.

Full definition - 5th meaning

Thank you, Ftornay.

To elaborate further…

The percentage margin is actually 80 percent.

When it is expressed in terms of “by an 88 percent to eight percent margin,” they are actually providing the polling results and letting you do the math yourself to determine the percent margin at the same time. It’s the same as saying:

Obama’s approval rating remains dismal among Republicans, who disapprove of Obama’s performance by an 80 percent margin. A recent poll showed that 88 percent of Republicans disapprove of Obama’s performance, compared to 8 percent who approve.

Here are examples of “percent margin” in polling:

and in retail:


In retail, the percentage margin is the percentage of the final selling price that is (gross) profit.

In polling, the percentage margin is the percent difference between two contrasting measures, such as ‘favor’ and ‘do not favor.’

According to a recent survey of 1120 British voters, 36 percent want Britain to leave the EU, compared to 27 percent who want Britain to remain in the EU. This means (or has been interpreted as meaning): Brits favor leaving the European Union by a 9 percent margin.

Thank you for your detailed explanation, Brucenator.