Guy Benson

Yesterday I wrote that Barack Obama clearly received a polling bounce coming out of the DNC, but pondered whether it would last.  Three new pieces of statistical evidence suggest that the "sugar high" is wearing off, and that the presidential contest is headed back to the virtual tie in which it had been mired for months on end:
 

(1) Rasmussen - After leaping out to a five-point lead post-DNC, Obama's numbers are slipping.  We'll continue to keep an eye on this trajectory: 
 

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows President Obama attracting support from 48% of voters nationwide, while Mitt Romney earns 45% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. Today’s data suggests that the president’s convention bounce has started to fade. When “leaners” are included, it’s Obama 49% and Romney 47%.


(2) IBD/TIPP shows a narrowing race, with each candidate stuck well shy of the critical 50 percent threshold:
 

President Obama's lead over Governor Romney shrinks from 7 points in August to 2 points in September, according to the latest Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP Poll.  Romney gains support from men, southern, rural, and Hispanic voters this month.
Q:  If the 2012 election for United States President were held today and the following were candidates for whom would you vote?
46% Democrat Barack Obama
44% Republican Mitt Romney

8% Not sure
2%   Refused
 
(3) Washington Post/ABC News - Among likely voters, it's a one-point race (49/48), well within the margin of error and virtually unchanged from before the conventions.  Ed Morrissey's analysis is a must-read:
 

Maybe this will stop the silly post-convention panic among Republicans...We’re less than 60 days out.  Registered-voter samples don’t mean much at this stage of the election; it’s likely voters that provide predictive data from surveys.  They mean even less when only 26% in the sample are Republicans.  The likely voter sample improves that by a point to 27%, but still has a D+6 D/R/I at 33/27/36.  The 2010 midterms had a national turnout D/R/I of 35/35/30; the 2008 election was D+7 at 39/32/29.  A GOP turnout of 27% would be among the worst ever in a presidential race, if not a record.  Since enthusiasm measures in other surveys, notably Gallup’s, show an enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans, I’m not inclined to buy this poll’s likely-voter split as a model for this election. Also, the internals for Obama even among RVs are hardly cheery.  His job approval hasn’t budged since before the conventions.  Three weeks ago, it was 47/50, and now it’s 48/50.  On the economy, he went from 43/56 to 45/53.  Among independents, Obama’s job approval is 45/50 with 37% strongly disapproving.  That’s probably why Romney’s beating Obama among likely independent voters by eleven points, 54/43.  Obama won independents by eight in 2008 on his way to a seven point victory overall.  That’s a 19-point swing among independents.


You read that right.  Romney's leading with independents by eleven points, so it takes a D+6 sample to rescue Obama and nudge him into a statistically insignificant lead.  WaPo notes that among registered voters (no longer an especially relevant sample group), Obama's lead is six points -- but it takes a D+10 sample to get him there.  Among this larger sample, independent voters break heavily toward "we're not better off,"  agreeing with Romney's indictment of Obama's term by nearly 20 points.  The most disquieting poll number over the last few days came from CNN, which purported to show Obama clearing the 50 percent bar and leading Romney by six points among likely voters.  Even Mr. Negativity himself -- our buddy Allahpundit -- couldn't quite swallow those topline numbers.  Why?  Well, the same survey showed Romney ahead by 14 points (!) with independents and didn't release the partisan sample skew.  Obama's down double-digits with indies, but is comfortably ahead overall?  That seems more than a bit odd.  I'll leave you with a keen (if slightly rosy) take from the Weekly Standard's polling maven, Jay Cost:
 

Final point: it has often been commented upon that Romney has not led at all in the summer, and that from a historical perspective that is bad news for the GOP. Untrue on both counts. For starters, when we are talking about historical perspective, really the only poll that has been in constant, regular operation is the Gallup poll, where Romney and Obama were basically trading leads for months prior to the convention. Additionally, the only challenger who successfully defeated an incumbent and had a comfortable lead all through the pre-convention summer period was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Both Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992 were stuck in basically the same position as Romney was prior to the conventions. Obviously, all of this could change. Historically speaking, convention bounces tend to be exactly that – bounces that fade over time. Romney enjoyed a modest bounce, and so far it looks like Obama is enjoying a 4-point bounce or so. My instincts tell me that by the time of the debates, we will be back to precisely where we were in August – both candidates essentially tied and stuck 3-5 points below 50 percent. Time will tell.


UPDATE - Flashback: "Why Bush is toast."

 


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography