(NOTE: SEE UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.)
The funny thing about the latest Pew poll (HERE) is the reaction to it in both the mainstream media and the right-wing blogosphere.
Mitt Romney’s four-point lead over President Obama in the Pew survey — 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters — is barely outside the poll’s stated margin of error. Among registered voters in general, the race is even at 46 percent. In other words, a contest that’s been fairly close for months now is still fairly close, if not a dead heat.
But the MSM, ever eager to refute any notions of liberal bias, are touting the Pew survey as a stunning surge for Romney. All three TV network morning shows today trumpeted the numbers Moreover, the conservative media — especially right-wing Web sites — suddenly have abandoned the familiar meme that polls are not to be trusted. (I guess the only untrustworthy polls are the ones that don’t show Romney ahead.)
Meanwhile, the latest seven-day average in the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll has Obama ahead by three points among registered voters, 49-46, as we see here:
Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones SUMS IT UP thusly:
The first presidential debate went decidedly in Romney’s favor. The debate appears to have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the debate compared with the three days prior. Still, the impact was not so strong that it changed the race to the point where Romney emerged as the leader among registered voters. Rather, at least in the first three days of Gallup tracking after the debate, the race is tied.
But even that small movement is significant, given the competitiveness of the race throughout this presidential campaign year and the fact that debates rarely transform presidential election races.
However, the generally positive unemployment report released on Friday may serve to blunt some of Romney’s post-debate momentum.
In any case, with a month to go before Election Day, the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is still very much in doubt. That certainly raises the stakes for both candidates in the next two debates, Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.
UPDATE: Nate Silver, the nation’s pre-eminent polling analyst, now puts Romney’s chances of winning in the Electoral College at about one-in-four.
In a post-midnight piece early today, Silver had THIS to say:
Mitt Romney gained further ground in the FiveThirtyEight forecast on Monday, with his chances of winning the Electoral College increasing to 25.2 percent from 21.6 percent on Sunday.
The change represents a continuation of the recent trend: Mr. Romney’s chances were down to just 13.9 percent immediately in advance of last week’s debate in Denver. He has nearly doubled his chances since then.
But the gains that he made on Monday in particular were all because of a single poll…a Pew Research poll that gave Mr. Romney a 4-point lead among likely voters…
The most unfavorable numbers for Mr. Romney came in the national tracking polls published by Gallup and Rasmussen Reports. Both showed the race trending slightly toward President Obama, who increased his lead from 3 points to 5 points in the Gallup poll, and pulled into a tie after having trailed by 2 points in the Rasmussen survey.
UPDATE II: Gallup released new figures at Noon (CDT), and they show Obama’s job-approval rating (53 percent) 11 points higher than his disapproval rating (42 percent).
In the presidential contest, the rolling seven-day average shows a neck-and-neck race. Obama leads Romney by three points among registered voters (49-46), and Romney leads by two points among likely voters (49-47).
UPDATE III: A new CNN poll released this afternoon SHOWS Obama leading Romney in Ohio by four points among likely voters (51-47) and 10 points among registered voters (53-43).