With both the Republican Party and Democratic Party Conventions now over, presidential polling begins in earnest moving into the last two months of campaigning and quickly toward the three all-important presidential debates, which may help decide this election. While the August jobs report was largely disappointing, with only 96,000 private-sector jobs added and the unemployment rate dropping only marginally from 8.3% to 8.1%, the analysis has focused on the impact of the party conventions on the state of the race.
While the lackluster Republican Convention was marked by the bizarre, nationally televised spectre of a bewildered old man talking to a chair and tepid speeches, without any substance, the Democrats have so far gained traction from the stellar speeches given in Charlotte, North Carolina this past week. Preliminary polling by long-time polling titan, Gallup, reflects that:
President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party look as if they are getting at least a preliminary bounce from their convention. Today’s (Friday, Sept. 7) Gallup Daily tracking update puts Obama’s job approval rating at 52%, the highest it has been since May 2011, after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Obama has also moved to a 48% to 45% lead over Mitt Romney among registered voters in the election tracking, up from Obama’s 47% to 46% margin over the last nine days.
Gallup averages the job approval rating on a three-day rolling average, meaning that today’s report encompasses interviewing conducted over the three days of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte — Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Gallup’s report of presidential election preferences are, on the other hand, based on a seven-day rolling average stretching from last Friday, the day after the GOP Convention ended, through last night.
This uptick in these two indicators stands in contrast to tracking during the Republican Convention, during which there was no discernible bounce on the ballot tracking. Gallup does not track other measures on Romney that would be comparable to the job approval figure for Obama.
The current data are quite preliminary and for the most part does not reflect the impact Obama’s late Thursday night speech has had, if any.
Key focus points now will be the ultimate magnitude and duration of the apparent Democratic bounce going forward. By the middle of next week we will have a good feel for both of these dimensions. It is possible that these upticks are short-lived and that the race will devolve back to a parity by next week. On the other hand, if Obama builds on and sustains his higher job approval rating and lead over Romney, it could signal a possible resetting of the presidential race as it enters the remaining three-and-a-half weeks before the first debate on Oct. 3.