Obama vs. Romney: Pollsters Say Race Tightening


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Obama's poll numbers tend to be better when samples sizes are large. Photo Credit: White House

Aggregate poll results thus far in May could make observers dizzy, with the way Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are volleying the lead back and forth. Which polls are the most accurate in determining the leader in this election?

Of the nine polls conducted during May, Obama and Romney have each come out ahead in four, and the two candidates were tied in one poll. The candidates’ victories have been spread throughout the month, with their leads nearly alternating as each new poll has been conducted.

Aggregate Polling Breakdown

Polls with Obama Leading:

  • IBD/CSM/TIPP: Conducted 4/27 to 5/1 with a three point spread
  • Reuters/Ipsos: Conducted 4/27 to 5/4 with a seven point spread
  • Associated Press: Conducted 5/3 to 5/7 with an eight point spread
  • Gallup: Conducted 5/8 to 5/14 with a one point spread

Polls with Romney Leading:

  • Politico: Conducted 4/29 to 5/3 with a one point spread
  • Washington Times: Conducted 5/11 to 5/12 with a one point spread
  • CBS News/New York times: Conducted 5/11 to 5/13 with a three point spread
  • Rasmussen Tracking: Conducted 5/11 to 5/14  with a two point spread

Poll Timing

Although the candidates seem to be about even when we look at the first half of May as a whole, Obama appeared to be the stronger candidate early in the month. From May 1 to May 7, he was ahead in three out of five polls, two of which had significant spreads of seven and eight points. Obama and Romney tied in one of these early May polls, and the other had Romney ahead by only one point. Polls conducted from May 11 to May 14, however, resulted in more favorable results for Romney. The GOP candidate was ahead in three out of four polls, with spreads ranging from one to three points. The mid-May poll that had Obama leading reported a spread of only one point.

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