Post-convention poll bounce leaves Obama as the favorite for now
A tight presidential race has loosened up a bit as multiple polls show President Barack Obama opening up his lead against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Gallup’s national tracking poll has Obama with a 50 percent to 44 percent lead over Romney as of Tuesday, a notable jump from the one-point advantage he had before the Democratic National Convention and the largest lead he has held since July. The Gallup tracking poll is an average of individual polls conducted over a seven-day period, which means Obama’s lead in that poll may further increase over the next couple days.
Additionally, a CNN/ORC poll released Monday puts the president ahead with a six-point lead nationally, 52 percent to 46 percent, a big jump over the 48-48 tie the poll revealed before the DNC.
“It remains to be seen whether the bump will last through November, but it does tend to blunt the opposition arguments,” political science professor James Hill said. “The Republicans need to make a new argument to get undecided voters’ attention again.”
Romney’s post-Republican National Convention bounce in the polls was small at best. Most tracking polls showed no statistically significant movement in his favor, but the Romney campaign should not be too anxious right now, said political science professor Delbert Ringquist.
“Obviously, President Obama must be pleased, but it is far too early to worry about a few percentage-point bounce,” Ringquist said. “It does indicate that you probably are exciting your base … at this point. Will this bump stick for the president? The debates in three weeks are likely to be major factors.”
The Romney campaign dismissed the polls.
“While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said in a memo. “The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.”
Nevertheless, Nate Silver of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, which analyzes polls from around the country and projects what the outcome of the election will be, currently puts the president at roughly 80 percent odds to win the election, the highest number he has ever had.
“(U)nless there is some change of course, it looks increasingly as though (Romney) lacks the appeal to the voting blocks that might allow him to win 51 percent of the vote rather than 49 percent,” Silver wrote Saturday.
The post-convention bump is significant since Obama has held a steady but small lead over Romney for most of the past year with little variation, usually hovering around 2-3 percentage points when averaging national polls. A rise in support for the president, even just a few points, but not for Romney suggests Obama’s ceiling for support may be higher than Romney’s.
“This an extremely odd election,” Silver wrote. “You would figure that at some point over the past year, Mr. Romney would have pulled into the lead in the polls, given how close it has usually been.”
Silver wrote that when one candidate leads from start to finish, like Richard Nixon in 1972 or Ronald Reagan in 1984, the candidate tends to win in a landslide. If he wins, Obama will certainly not win by margins like those, but it is nonetheless a concerning sign for a Romney campaign looking to gain traction with voters.
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