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Gallup poll shows Romney up 6; too large a gap for Obama comeback?

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17 2012 1:58 p.m. MDT

President Barack Obama greets Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the start of the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y.

Associated Press

The latest Gallup seven-day tracking poll released Wednesday shows a jump in support for Mitt Romney, giving him a slightly wider lead over President Barack in the final weeks before Nov. 6.

According to the latest poll, Romney leads Obama among likely voters, 51 to 45 percent. This is Romney's biggest lead since Gallup began tracking likely voters earlier in Oct., as well as his largest lead in the survey. Romney also leads among registered voters, 48 to 46 percent.

The data in the survey is a rolling seven-day average through Oct. 16 and therefore does not reflect data from after Tuesday's town hall presidential debate.

"So it's mid-October and Romney is up 6 in Gallup," Ben Smith of Buzzfeed tweeted after the poll was released. "So the (common wisdom) should be that he is going to be president, yes?"

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post responded, tweeting back that polling averages — not one poll — should be the basis for common wisdom.

A closer look at other Gallup data released Tuesday shows that Obama's support since 2008 has dropped the most among voters in the South, 30- to 49-year-olds, those with four-year college degrees, postgraduates, men and Protestants. Obama has also slipped among whites, Easterners, women and Catholics, while his support is roughly the same among 18- to 29-year-olds, seniors, nonwhites and voters in the West and Midwest.

Before the debate, Gallup showed the candidates' favorability ratings among registered voters nearly tied, with Romney at 52 percent favorability and Obama at 51.

According to Business Insider, Gallup's historical standards suggest it would take a historic comeback for the president to win the election, with Romney's current six-point lead. Since Gallup started tracking in 1936, the only person to mount a comeback down six points on Oct. 17 was Ronald Reagan.

While the Gallup numbers reflect the continuing momentum shift in Romney's favor, some are skeptical about taking them too seriously at this point.

"In two minutes, let's freak out about the Gallup Tracker that includes basically no post-debate data," Slate's Dave Weigel tweeted.

A CNN/ORC International poll conducted after the debate Tuesday showed that with those polled, Obama edged Romney out, claiming victory with 46 percent of voters compared to 39 percent.

According to the internal numbers from CNN's post-debate poll, those interviewed said they trust Romney more on the economy in general, 58 to 40 percent; health care, 49 to 46 percent; taxes, 51 to 44 percent and the federal budget deficit, 59 to 36 percent. They trusted Obama more on foreign policy, 49 to 47 percent. Those polled also said Obama failed to offer a clear plan for solving the country's problems, 61 to 38 percent, and Romney, 50 to 49 percent.

A CBS instant poll after the debate also gave Obama the win, 37 to 30 percent, while 33 percent said it was a tie. In terms of helping the middle class, 56 percent said Obama would do a better job, compared to 43 percent for Romney. On which candidate will do a better job on the economy, Romney finished with 65 percent compared to Obama's 34 percent.

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