new USA Today/Gallup poll released on Monday shows Mitt Romney with a five-point lead among likely voters across 12 critical swing states. The poll ascribes Romney's surge to growing support from women, who are now evenly split between the GOP candidate and Obama. And if the trend holds, things could get even worse for the incumbent. "As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later," says Susan Page at USA Today, "and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads."
However, the Obama campaign pushed back heavily against the poll, calling it an "extreme outlier." "Gallup's data is once again far out of line with other public pollsters," writes Obama pollster Joel Benenson. "In 14 state polls conducted across 8 swing states since October 4, President Obama leads among women in every single one."
Is Obama really this far behind in battleground states? Several commentators mocked the Obama campaign for trying to "unskew" the polls, which was what conservatives were accused of doing when they questioned the results of polls showing Obama with a lead.
The New York Times' Peter Baker:
First Romney folks complain polls are skewed, now Obama folks do. Chicago campaign sends out memo quarreling with USA Today/Gallup results.— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) October 15, 2012
And Bloomberg's Josh Barro:
Why did the Obama campaign release this Gallup memo? Is looking pathetic part of an expectations management strategy?— Josh Barro (@jbarro) October 15, 2012
However, other stat wonks had genuine disagreements with Gallup's methodology, as well as the relevance of a poll that averages out the results from 12 different states.
New York Times poll guru Nate Silver:
Looking at breakouts of "swing states" from national polls is just dumb when there are dozens of actual swing state polls out every week.— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) October 15, 2012
Also, (i) everybody defines swing states differently and (ii) not all swing states are equally important.— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) October 15, 2012
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