So What’s It Mean?

October 8, 2012 12:50 p.m.

So what’s the deal with the polls?

As you can see, Pew released a poll this afternoon that had Romney 4 points ahead of Barack Obama. That really is a big number. Not just because I don’t think any major poll has had Romney with that kind of margin ever but also because it’s Pew. These things aren’t a matter of bias. Pew is an extremely well respected and rightly respected poll. But in this cycle, on balance, if there are a handful of polls, Pew’s will generally lean more toward Obama than the others. So this is by no means a poll that shows any anti-Obama lean.Markos Moulitsas also noted on Twitter earlier this afternoon that their poll, which will be released tomorrow and is done by PPP, will also show Romney in the lead.

So more data for what we already knew, which is that Romney got a big bump out of the Wednesday night debate.

The part of the equation that doesn’t fit is the data we’re getting from the tracking polls. Across the three going now (Rasmussen, Gallup and Ipsos), there’s a pretty consistent pattern showing a rapid jump for Romney on Thursday and Friday and then a pretty rapid fall off over the weekend. Gallup, as noted, is back to a 5 point Obama margin today.

So how to reconcile these numbers? It’s worth noting first of all that all the numbers are blurry. By definition. There may not be a there there to reconcile.

Having said that, PPP has noted that Thursday and Friday’s number were bad and worse for Obama. And the weekend showed his numbers rebounding. Moulitsas also notes that most of the PPP poll he and SEIU sponsor was done on Thursday and Friday. That paints a picture which is consistent with what we’re seeing from the tracking polls.

So what’s with the Pew poll? Hard to say. The polling dates were from Thursday to Sunday. If the sample was frontloaded on the earlier days it could be consistent with these other polls. If the sampling is evenly spread over the days it looks a little less consistent.

My hunch is that it’s weighted to the end of last week and has less of the rebound Obama seems to have made over the weekend. Or perhaps it’s just a better poll — live calls, rather than robo-polls and a more methodical approach.

As usual, stay tuned.

Late Update: Huffpo notes that according to Pew only 155 of 1201 (about 13%) interviews were conducted on Sunday. That would be consistent with what I suggested above, that the poll was front loaded to the early days of the four day period and possibly did not pick up the rebound noted in the tracking polls.

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