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Daily Breakdown: Pay Attention To Dates

If you missed yesterday’s polls, check out this recap. Long story short: the tracking polls initially suggested that Romney’s bounce began to recede, then Pew Research pointed toward an extremely large bounce for Romney.


We'll see whether this pattern holds over the next few days, but it's worth flagging that, at least for now, Pew Research doesn't have much company. So far, there isn't a single battleground state poll showing Romney up by 4, let alone another survey showing Romney up 4 nationally or pointing toward a double-digit shift in Romney's direction:

Didn't realize until afterwards that this used Obama+5 for the Gallup tracker, but even if you change that to a tie to reflect the three days after the debate it only moves the average to Romney+3.2. 

Over the next few days, more surveys will weigh-in on the size of Romney’s post-debate bounce. But it’s important to keep an eye on whether the polls are measuring the peak of Romney’s bounce, which looks like it was around 4 points before the polls with Sunday interviews pointed toward a smaller one, or whether they’re measuring the weekend and later, when there are signs that Romney’s bounce began to fade. Resolving the size of Romney’s bounce and whether it lasted are two important, but separate questions. We’ll need to be careful to track both.

For that reason, Mark Blumenthal's point about the Pew poll is potentially quite important: just 155 interviews were conducted on Sunday. As observed yesterday, Sunday appeared to be a strong day for the president in the tracking polls, Rasmussen’s two state surveys, and PPP’s poll of Virginia. Before Sunday’s interviews were incorporated into the tracking polls and Rasmussen showed Obama performing well in Colorado and Iowa, the balance of evidence pointed toward about a 3 or 4-point shift in Romney’s direction, which would have produced a tied race. Since most of Pew’s interviews were conducted on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it’s easier to close the gap between Pew’s result and the other pollsters, since if Obama and Romney are tied nationally, then we would expect Romney to occasionally lead by about four points, just as there were polls showing a tie or Obama up seven immediately prior to the debates.

Of course, it’s still an open question whether Sunday represents a swing toward Obama or just noise. So pay careful attention to the dates on the polls released over the next few days, and be sure to sort them between two categories: evidence of the size of Romney's bounce or whether his bounce endures into this week.