Don’t follow the bouncing poll

Two recent polls have Barack Obama leading John McCain by more than 10 percentage points. A Newsweek poll has the race at 51-36 and a Bloomberg/LA Times poll has it at 49-37. Thanks to these polls, the RCP average now tilts decisively towards Obama by a margin of 48.2 to 41.3. This would suggest that Obama has obtained a substantial “bounce” recently.

But the polls I pay closest attention to — Rasmussen and Gallup — indicate otherwise. The latest Gallup tracking poll has the race dead even (45 to 45). Moreover, Obama’s lead in this poll has not exceeded 3 points in the past week. The latest Rasmussen tracking poll has Obama ahead by only 4 points (49 to 45 with “leaners” included). Rasmussen’s polling shows a stable race, with Obama consistently ahead by 4 to 6 points (with leaners included).

For what it’s worth, I’m with Rasmussen. There’s no reason why the race should be unstable at this point — no event of any consequence has occurred since Hillary Clinton dropped out and endorsed Obama in early June, and it’s unlikely that voters are paying much attention to the race these days. Even I’m having trouble doing so.

The next time that voters pay much attention will probably be in August when the Democrats hold their convention. At that time, I expect that Obama will gain a substantial bounce. In the absence of highly important and relevant news before then, the race should remain stable, though not all polling will.

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