Gallup Gulp

Undoubtedly, there are some liberals panicking over the latest Gallup tracking poll, which shows Mitt Romney with a seven-point lead over President Obama, 51 percent to 44 percent.

Before confining themselves to despair, however, liberals should remember a few things:

First, individual polls aren’t accurate measures of the state of the race. As more and more polls are released—and there is more and more noise—it’s important to pay attention to averages. Even something as crude as the Real Clear Politics average—which brings together the most recent polls—is useful in reducing the influence of outliers.

Second, Gallup is a well-regarded survey outfit, but that doesn’t mean its polls are perfect. This isn’t to say that Gallup is “skewed,” but rather that Gallup has had erratic results over the last few election cycles. In 2010, for example, Gallup showed Republicans leading on the generic ballot by 15 points; the actual margin was 6.8 points. Similar disparities were seen in the 2008, 2004, and 2000 elections.

Finally, if Romney were winning by seven points, the race would look a lot different than it does at the moment. A world in which Romney holds a lead that large is one in which he (probably) holds leads in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio—and is on the verge of winning in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

As it stands, Obama still leads in each of those states, with the exception of Florida, which is a toss-up. Indeed, every national tracking poll other than Gallup shows a tied race.

So liberals need not panic—yet. It’s possible that the Gallup poll reflects where the race is going. In which case, we’ll see Obama collapse nationwide. If that doesn’t happen—and this is an outlier—we should see the president develop a lead. Eventually, national and state polls have to align, and it'll happen soon.

So They Say

"Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him. But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that’s the nature of the process."

Tagg Romney, responding to a question of what he wanted to do to Obama during Tuesday's debate.


  • Obama and Romney are speaking at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner tonight. New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman used the upcoming event as an opportunity to point out the echoes of FDR and Smith's longstanding feud, antagonisms that "resound strikingly in today’s political wars, reaffirming William Faulkner’s observation that 'the past is never dead; it’s not even past.'"
  • This week in particular, the past is once and future king, as former presidents push their way into the limelight. A new FDR memorial opened on Roosevelt Island in New York. 
  • And Bill Clinton helped out at the dedication.
  • Bubba also got prime real estate this week in New York magazine, which surmises that the former president is exactly where he wants to be—on the radar of the current presidential election as he does the math on Hillary's 2016 prospects.
  • The Lincoln and Johnson ticket is taking the Internet by storm with its snazzy new campaign website.
  • After his debate comeback on Tuesday, pundits are saying that Obama hopes tofollow in the footsteps of Dubya and Reagan, who both lost their first debates and made it to a second term. Others have tried to stick him in Carter's bad debate=one-term corner.
  • All the while Romney is looking to stray as far from Bush's presidential footprints as possible after Dubya came up at the town hall ...
  • ... to little avail ...
  • ... while conservatives are praying for the day when a mention of "George W. Bush" no longer transmogrifies into electoral poison. 
  • Even fictional presidents like Thomas Whitmore, Jed Bartlet, and James Marshall are crowding out coverage as reporters realize they've been talking about this election for nearly two years and are hungry for new stories. 

What We're Writing

  • Jamelle Bouie sums up Mitt Romney's economic plan: 12 Million Jobs and a Unicorn!
  • Amanda Marcotte slams Jen Rubin's Twitter insults at Hillary Clinton.

What We're Reading

  • Mitt Romney is trying out a new stump speech, one that often leaves his audience in tears.
  • Sixty-eight Nobel laureates in the sciences have endorsed Barack Obama.
  • In case you had any doubts, Bruce Springsteen also supports the current president.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates on the burden of not only trying to be a great president, but a great black president, too
  • What did everyone think of Tuesday's First Lady debate?
  • Remember the DNC's pledge not to take corporate cash for the convention? Yeah, that didn't happen.
  • The think tanks have spoken: Romney's tax plan is impossible.
  • Get ready to hear a lot about Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire in the next few days.
  • The definitive guide on how to win over female voters.

Poll of the Day

In a new Gallup survey, women and men are seen to have very different opinions on what the most important issues of this election are. Among female registered voters, 39 percent said abortion was the top issue, with jobs and health care following at 19 and 18 percent, respectively. For men, 38 percent said jobs were the most important issue, while the economy and the deficit followed with 37 and 10 percent.

For more polling information, go to the Prospect’s 2012 election map.

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