Wait, Obama Is Up by 13 Points?

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A respected pollster finds President Obama to be way more popular than he's been in other surveys, while Obamacare remains unpopular and Mitt Romney has a long way to go in Wisconsin. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.

Findings: Obama is leading Romney among likely voters by 13 percentage points -- 53 percent to 40 percent.

PollsterBloomberg/ Selzer & Company

Methodology: Survey 1,002 adults, 734 of them likely voters, from June 15 to June 18. The margin of error is +/- 3.6 percentage points.

Why it matters: Conventional wisdom holds that the last month has been nothing but bad news for Obama -- the Wisconsin recall, the bad jobs report, etc. Well, the conventional wisdom still might not be wrong. This is a much larger lead for Obama than other recent polls have shown. His average lead is 2.2 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics. That led many to quickly dismiss the poll as an outlier. "That's a clown poll, bro," The New York Times' Nate Silver tweeted. But The New Republic's Nate Cohn points out that Selzer & Co. is "an exceptionally well regarded pollster best known for conducting the famous Des Moines Register poll prior to the Iowa caucuses." The big difference in this result and other polls can't be blamed on improper weighting of age or race, he says, or partisan affiliation. "That suggests that either the likely voter screen yields a more Democratic electorate, which seems unlikely given higher GOP enthusiasm, or that Obama holds a surprisingly large advantage among voters who are 'totally independent,' a finding largely at odds with recent polling… Of course, even the best pollsters occasionally produce odd samples."

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The poll included a couple interesting questions, given that Romney's seen less favorably than Obama, like that 54 percent would rather see Obama than Romney "appearing regularly on your TV or computer screen" over the next four years, and that 57 percent would prefer of Obama over Romney as a seat mate on a long flight. 

Caveat: "Rather than allow one’s hopes to rise and fall with every poll, the best metric for following the horse race is the simple but accurate polling average," Cohn says, joining the other fun-haters.

Findings: 50 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling health care, down slightly since last year, but still high. 47 percent oppose Obamacare, while 33 percent support it. If the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, 77 percent want him to start working on a new reform bill. 

PollsterAssociated Press/ GfK

Methodology: Interviews with 1,007 adults from June 14 to June 18. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

Why it matters: Obamacare is unpopular, but people still think the health care system needs to be fixed. That might explain why some conservative groups aren't attacking the law very harshly. But if the Supreme Court does spike the law, it's very unlikely Republicans will come up with a sweeping plan to replace it.

Caveat: People who want Congress to work on another health care reform package must not clearly remember the months of agony it took to past the last one.

Findings: Obama is leading Romney 49 percent to 43 percent in Wisconsin. Obama's lead is down 2 points from May, according to this pollster.

PollsterMarquette University

Methodology: Phone survey of 707 likely voters from June 13 to June 16. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 percentage points.

Why it matters: This is the first poll taken in the state since the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker. Republicans have said they'll convert the get-out-the-vote organization that helped Walker into one that will help Romney compete in this traditionally blue state. But Romney's not that popular in Wisconsin -- the poll finds that 35 percent view him favorably while 43 percent view him unfavorably. 

Caveat: Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting in the aftermath of the recall elections, Marquette says.

(Photos via Associated Press.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.