Whatever bounce President Obama (or Clinton) procured from last week’s convention is fading, according to today’s Washington Post/ABC News poll. Both candidates are virtually tied among likely voters:
The survey shows that the race remains close among likely voters, with Obama at 49 percent and Romney at 48 percent, virtually unchanged from a poll taken just before the conventions.
But among a wider sample of all registered voters, Obama holds an apparent edge, topping Romney at 50 percent to 44 percent, and has clear advantages on important issues in the campaign when compared with his rival.
Polls of registered voters are usually more favorable to Democrats, but they’re not as meaningful as polls of likely voters. The left will trumpet Obama’s 6-point lead among registered voters, but it’s the 49 percent-to-48 percent split among likelies that really matters. That’s also with a voter sample that heavily favors Democrats, as Ed Morrissey explains:
We’re less than 60 days out. Registered-voter samples don’t mean much at this stage of the election; it’s likely voters that provide predictive data from surveys. They mean even less when only 26% in the sample are Republicans. The likely voter sample improves that by a point to 27%, but still has a D+6 D/R/I at 33/27/36. The 2010 midterms had a national turnout D/R/I of 35/35/30; the 2008 election was D+7 at 39/32/29. A GOP turnout of 27% would be among the worst ever in a presidential race, if not a record. Since enthusiasm measures in other surveys, notably Gallup’s, show an enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans, I’m not inclined to buy this poll’s likely-voter split as a model for this election.
That’s not to say Republicans shouldn’t continue to worry. The fact that Obama got any bounce at all from a lackluster and controversy-plagued convention is a bad sign for Romney, and same goes for the fact that Friday’s disappointing jobs report seems to have had little, if any, effect on Obama’s poll numbers. As Jonathan wrote yesterday, unless the public is willing to hold Obama responsible for the faltering recovery, Romney will have a difficult time winning this argument.