With polling stagnant thus far, the Romney camp was likely hoping last week’s GOP convention would propel the governor to a significant lead over President Obama. Daily tracking data released by Gallup, however, suggest the convention did not have a positive impact on Romney’s polling, and similar data from Rasmussen indicates Romney is up slightly from tracking reports released just prior to the GOP convention.
Daily Tracking Poll Methodology
The Gallup daily tracking poll is based on 7-day averages of results compiled from registered voters. Respondents surveyed before the convention, from August 24 to August 27, favored Romney 47 percent to 46 percent. The same survey averaged between August 31 and September 3, after the convention, had Obama leading 47 percent to 46 percent. Both of these results were within the margin of error of +/-3 points. Samples consisted of just over 1800 registered voters, contacted at random via landline and cell phone.
The Rasmussen daily tracking poll is averaged over 3 days, and polls registered voters who describe themselves as likely to vote in the November presidential election. Numbers released prior to the GOP convention had Obama with a 1 point lead. Current post-convention data has Romney leading by 3 points. Rasmussen daily tracking polls have margins of error of +/-3 points.
Can Historic Convention Bounce Trends Predict the 2012
Other recent presidential candidates who did not have post convention bounces recorded by Gallup were George McGovern and John Kerry. Both lost against the incumbent presidents they challenged. Not all past trends suggest disappointment for Romney, however. In 2008, John McCain had a substantial post-convention bounce of 6 points, edging Obama’s 4 point bounce, but Obama went on to win the presidency.
In general, convention bounces have become smaller and less significant over time, because the constant access to cable news and online media has led to fewer undecided voters prior to elections.
Are Tracking Polls Jumping the Gun?
Daily tracking polls are considered controversial by some polling experts because they rely upon short surveys delivered during a single day. Essentially, they are snapshots of public opinion. Although results are averaged over several days, they tend to differ from polls where the data is gathered over several days without being averaged. As more traditional polls are released in the days following the conventions, a trend may begin to emerge. Thus far, the only other poll released since the GOP convention was conducted by CNN from August 31 to September 3. The CNN poll found both candidates tied, with Romney gaining 1 point from his pre-convention numbers.
Interpreting the Poll Results
Both Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking polls have been consistent in releasing results that are close, often within margins of error. Although undecided voters represent a small demographic, the Republican National Convention does not seem to have been the trigger that helped many change their minds. As the Democratic National Convention is underway this week, it remains to be seen whether that event will cause any polling changes.
Gallup. Romney Gets No Bounce from Last Week’s GOP Convention. Accessed September 5, 2012
Rasmussen Reports. Daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Accessed September 5, 2012.