Measuring Obama's convention bounce

President Obama came out of the Democratic convention with a slight polling bounce, leaving the Romney campaign working to downplay any significance the numbers might hold.   

Gallup’s tracking numbers showed Obama’s job approval jump to 52 percent after the Democratic convention. And the latest CNN/ORC poll gives Obama a six-point lead over Romney among likely voters—52 percent to 46 percent.  In a CNN survey prior to the convention in Charlotte, Obama was tied with Romney at 48 percent.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday gives President Obama a one-point edge over Romney with likely voters—49 percent to 48 percent. That’s largely unchanged from numbers released just before the DNC, which showed Romney with a one-point edge.

After the Republican convention in Tampa, Romney’s boost was one or two percentage points at best.

Another Gallup poll found the Democratic convention rated slightly better than the Republican convention in Tampa. Gallup found 43 percent of people said they were more likely to vote for President Obama after the convention. That’s compared to 40 percent who said the same of Mitt Romney following the Republican convention.  

While Gallup notes that both of those numbers are “typical” of what it has measured after past conventions, the 38 percent of Americans who said the DNC made them less likely to vote for Obama is “relatively high” by historical standards.   

Romney pollster Neil Newhouse pushed back against the notion of a sustained Obama bounce in a memo on Monday with a warning not to get “too worked up about the latest polling.”

“While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly,” Newhouse wrote. “The reality of the economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.”   

The safe bet for Obama, says Democratic pollster Stefan Hankin, is to underplay any bounce until more polling is released over the next few days that shows a definite trend one way or the other. Given that both candidates are widely known, Hankin thinks even a small bounce is significant for Obama. He characterized a four-to-five-point bounce as shocking.    

While Obama’s bounce is real, Republicans are convinced those numbers will come back to earth quickly. If they do, there’s a definite risk for Democrats when it comes to overplaying the significance of any post-convention bounce.

There’s also a question of whether post-convention polling bounces hold much of any significance in the new media age. Last week in Charlotte, even Obama pollster Joel Benenson suggested the days of the meaningful convention bounce may be over.   

Democratic strategist James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg both predicted a sizable bounce earlier in the day Monday. In the latest Carville-Greenberg memo, Carville predicted a five-point bounce while Greenberg predicted a four-point bump.    

Greenberg’s argument: Independents are just beginning to take interest in the election, and Obama held a three-to-four-point advantage over Romney prior to the conventions.  

“You’re also seeing a lot of energy, a lot of consolidation on the Democratic side,” Greenberg said in a video. “There’s some key groups out there—young voters, unmarried women, professional women—there are a lot of folks that could do much better than they are now to get back to the 2008 level.”

Additional reporting by Shane D’Aprile.

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