The Trouble with Likely Voters

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Two national polls show conflicting results among likely voters, while Bible Belt whites have some lingering issues with Romney and Democrats mostly think they are hearing good news about the economy. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter. 

Findings: An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that, regardless of an Obama convention bounce, it's still a tight race among likely voters with Obama at 49 percent and Romney at 48. That said, a CNN/ORC International poll gives Obama a the clear lead among likely voters 52 percent to 46 percent — up from a tie in the last version of this poll. 
Pollster: Abt-SRBI for ABC News/Washington Post and ORC International for CNN
Methodology: For ABC News/Washington Post: Telephone poll of 710 likely voters, September 7 through 9, with a margin of error for registered voters at +/-4.5 percent. For CNN/ORC: Telephone poll of 709 likely voters, September 7 through 9, with a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent. 
Why it matters: The ABC News/Washington Post poll reemphasizes that this race is a nail-biter, despite the recent focus on Obama's convention bounce, while the CNN/ORC poll fits the other recent polls showing Obama gaining ground after his convention. However, among registered voters in the ABC News/Post poll, Obama leads by 6 points, leading Mark Blumenthal of the Huffington Post to write that the results "adds a new wrinkle: Obama has gained among all registered voters, but the race remains tight among those most likely to vote." 
Caveat: Blumenthal says that shift between likely and registered voters in the ABC/Post findings "shines a spotlight on the often opaque methods used by pollsters to model the likely electorate. Beyond the number of interviews, for example, neither organization disclosed specific details of how these likely voters were selected for their latest surveys." 

Findings: Romney's wealth is still a sticky subject in among white Bible Belt voters with 38 percent of them saying they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is very wealthy — that's more than the 20 percent of them say they are less likely to vote for an African American. 
Pollster: Reuters/Ipsos 
Methodology: The results for these questions asked of Bible Belt whites focused on a sample size of 1,297 in households making under $55,000 a year in 11 states and had a "credibility interval" of +/-3.2 percent. See here
Why it matters: Reuters explains that lower- and middle-income voters "are wild cards in this vituperative presidential campaign. With only a sliver of the electorate in play nationwide, they could be a deciding factor in two southern swing states, Virginia and North Carolina." The poll shows that even within the largely Republican demographic there are still some key problems with the Romney persona. 
Caveat: The demographic still supports Romney 46 percent to 29 percent, despite 35 percent of them also saying they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon. 

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Findings: While only 15 percent of Democrats say they are "hearing mostly bad news about the economy," 60 percent of Republicans say they are. The Democratic number has dropped from 31 percent a month ago.
Pollster: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press 
Methodology: Telephone interviews of 1,012 adults September 7 through 9 with a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points. 
Why it matters:  Though Pew points out that "differences in perceptions of economic news emerged after Barack Obama took office," they add "they never have been as great as they are today." This poll comes directly after ultimately disappointing jobs report, but as The New York Times' Adam Nagourney notes on Twitter: "Revealing: New Pew poll finds big drop in % of Ds who say eco news mostly bad, even after jobs report. Ds coming home." 
Caveat: Could the poll also simply see Democrats riding high following the convention? 

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