Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19 Points Per Newsweek
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 05:55:05 PM EDT
Thursday marked the 11th straight day in which Barack Obama's lead over Hillary Clinton in nationwide polling from Gallup was large enough to fall outside of the daily tracking poll's margin of error. In the time since, however, Obama's lead has shrunk to a statistically insignificant lead of just three points.
Gallup Poll Daily tracking shows a tightening of the national Democratic race, with Barack Obama now holding just a 3-percentage point advantage over Hillary Clinton, 47% to 44%.
In Thursday night's interviewing, Clinton received a greater share of national Democratic support than Obama, the first time she has done so in an individual night's interviewing since April 3. That stronger showing for Clinton helped to snap Obama's streak of statistically significant leads in the three-day rolling averages Gallup reports each day. Until today, he had led Clinton by a statistically significant margin in each of the prior 11 Gallup releases.
So Wednesday night's debate on ABC did Obama in, right? Well, maybe not.
Despite her campaign's relentless attacks on Barack Obama's qualifications and electability, Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of ground with Democratic voters nationwide going into Tuesday's critical primary in Pennsylvania, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.
The survey of 1,209 registered voters found that Obama now leads Clinton by nearly 20 points, or 54 percent to 35 percent, among registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic nationwide. The previous Newsweek poll, conducted in March after Clinton's big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, showed the two Democrats locked in a statistical tie (45 percent for Obama to 44 percent for Clinton). The new poll puts Obama ahead among women as well as men, and voters aged 60 and older as well as younger voters.
According to Keith Olbermann tonight on Countdown (and I haven't been able to independently verify this as it's not in the Newsweek article accompanying the new polling), there was no statistical difference between the results on Wednesday, before the debate, and Thursday, after the debate. Doing a bit of back-of-the-napkin math, it would appear that the margin of error for just Thursday's sample would be a bit under plus or minus 6 percentage points, meaning that even in the Newsweek polling in the field just last night Obama's lead was statistically significant.
So what do we know at this point? Supporters of either candidates can pick and choose from various polls to come up with a conclusion that they like. But at this point, the safer action to take would just be to sit back, relax, and wait for more polling to be released to see which one of these surveys (if either) is catching a trend and which (and perhaps it's both) is an outlier.