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realclearworld

On polls and polling

As regular readers know, I've been following the polling for this election pretty closely. A couple of weeks ago the GOP partisans were fretting because the polling was showing Obama with a pretty commanding lead when all the indications are that he should be trailing (high unemployment, trillion dollar deficits, 16 trillion in debt, the middle east in flames, etc.). I told my friends not to panic, the polling would tighten up. I wasn't alone, across the web people were looking at the polling and scratching their heads. How could Obama be winning if almost every poll showed that Romney was leading with independents? The answer is that they were capturing far more Democrats than can be realistically expected to show up on election day. Now we see what I expected, a tightening in the polls partially driven by the debate on Wednesday but also because undecided people are starting to make up their minds. Most experts agree that that undecideds usually break for the challenger because if you haven't decided for the known commodity by now, you're probably not going to decide for him at all, you're just looking for a reason to go for the challenger. Romney gave them that reason on Wednesday night.

First, I'll direct your attention to a Pew Research Poll. The last time this poll reported it showed a 51-43 lead for Obama. Today it's showing a 49-45 lead for Romney.

Next I'll direct you to the Rasmussen and Gallup Tracking polls, each showing a tie. Note that Gallup is a poll of registered voters. Almost universally the GOP candidate does better among the smaller universe of likely voters.

Then there's the Politico/GWU poll that shows Obama leading by one (49-48) but trailing among independents by 16 points. Needless to say, Obama can't be leading Romney if Romeny is beating the president among independents by double digits.

I expect the polling to continue to be close over these last few weeks but I'm standing by my prediction of a 5-7 point Romney win in the popular vote.

2 comments to On polls and polling