Obama Post-Convention Poll Bounce: Will It Last?


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Obama took the lead after the Democratic convention, but will it last? Photo Credit: Will White

Polls conducted since the 2012 Democratic National Convention seem to indicate a modest, but narrowing, lead for President Obama against Governor Romney in the 2012 presidential race – Rasmussen shows a new Romney lead, but results are within the margin of error.

Post-DNC Polls

Of the 13 polling reports released by major pollsters since the convention, Obama has edged Romney in 12. His lead has ranged from 2 to 7 points.

Many of his higher leads were reported shortly after the convention, however, and polls released after September 12 are reporting leads within margins of error.

In their first reports after the DNC, both the Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking polls indicated significant gains for Obama, with his lead at 7 and 5 points, respectively. More recent tracking reports, however, released September 16, suggest a closer race. Gallup indicated a 3 point lead for Obama, and Rasmussen indicated a 2 point lead for Romney — the first Romney lead recorded by any major pollster since August 27. According to the most recent Rasmussen tracking report, however, both candidates are tied when likely voters who report that they “lean” toward one candidate or the other are considered.

What’s a Post-Convention Bump?

It is common for presidential candidates to see a lift in poll numbers following their respective conventions. Usually these are temporary, but sometimes the momentum built off the convention carries candidates through their campaigns and they emerge victorious.

Current polling indicates Obama had a bump. Before the conventions, he and Romney were vying for the leads in most polls, and all results were frequently within margins of error — sometimes Romney was slightly ahead, sometimes Obama was slightly ahead. Although the Republican National Convention did little to change this pattern, Obama did see an increased lead, sometimes outside of margins of error, in several polls conducted after the Democratic National Convention.

It does appear, however, that Obama experienced a bump rather than an ongoing surge, since the most current polls suggest  slight Obama leads, with one indicating a tie or a slight Romney lead, depending on whether “leaning” voters are considered. Any uptick in the polls benefits a presidential candidate in terms of fundraising and overall confidence, but the few polls conducted in the weeks following the DNC appear to suggest that the race is tightening once again.

“Likely to Vote” Does it Matter?

There do not appear to be major differences in results among polls that surveyed American adults, registered voters, and likely voters at this point, when the margins of error are considered.

  • American Adults: Of the two surveys that polled adults, Obama had leads of 1 and 6 points.
  • Registered Voters: Of the 5 surveys that polled registered voters, Obama leads ranged from 2 to 7 points.
  • Likely Voters: Of the six polls that targeted likely voters, results ranged from a 2 point Romney lead to a 5 point Obama lead.

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