Obama Post-Convention Poll Bounce: Will It Last?

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Romney vs. Obama: Rasmussen Shows Romney Lead

The Rasmussen Daily tracking report released September 17 is the most recent poll, and the first this month to suggest a Romney lead among the key sample, although the candidates were tied when “leaning” likely voters were included in the results.  This poll included 1500 likely voters polled over the course of three days. Five hundred respondents were contacted each day and results were averaged together for the final 3-day report. The margin of error was +/-3 points. Rasmussen’s unique polling methodology includes automated phone calls to landlines and Internet surveys.

Poll Margins of Error – What Do They Mean?

The first presidential debate in early October could move the polls more decisively in either direction. Photo Credit: Malwack

The Rasmussen poll and the three other surveys conducted since September 12 all reported leads within margins of error.

This means that if the same polls were conducted again, with the exact same methodology, both poll leaders could have their advantages diminished, and the polls would still be statistically accurate.

For this reason, it may be misleading to declare a candidate to be winning when he polls ahead, but his lead is within the margin of error.

Trends in which a series of polls all fall within this margin often suggest little more than a very close race.

Some analysts, however, consider a candidate to have a slight lead when multiple polls consistently project him as the leader, even if all the polls fall within margins of error.

The Presidential Race: Interpreting the Polls

The general consensus of both traditional and tracking polls seems to indicate that Obama achieved a small but notable post-convention bump, but that his lead may be starting to weaken. In order to determine with confidence that the race has returned to a pre-Convention state, we would need to see more more polls indicating slight Romney advantages.

Resources

RealClearPolitics. General Election: Romney vs. Obama. Accessed September 17, 2012.

Rasmussen Reports. Daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Accessed September 17, 2012.

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