Pew: Obama Leads By 8 Points, DNC Bolsters Dem Enthusiasm

Kyle Leighton

President Obama has an 8-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, bolstered by renewed Democratic enthusiasm in the wake of the Democratic National Convention, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.

"At this stage in the campaign, Barack Obama is in a strong position compared with past victorious presidential candidates," said Pew President Andrew Kohut. "Obama holds a bigger September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in November, including Obama four years ago. In elections since 1988, only Bill Clinton, in 1992 and 1996, entered the fall with a larger advantage."

Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 43 percent. A poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released Tuesday night showed a 5-point Obama advantage.

President Obama leads almost all public polls taken after the conventions, and he has a 4.1 edge in the PollTracker Average of the national race.

"We are seeing a substantial increase in Democratic engagement in this election over the last month," Pew research director Michael Dimock told TPM in an email. "Some of this may be linked to the conventions, which emphasized to Democrats the stakes in this election, as well as reminding them of some of the core values of the party in Clinton's speech.

Dimock said that Democrats' favorability shot up as well -- from 84 percent in July to 93 percent in September. The share of Democrats viewing the party very favorably rose from 30 percent to 45 percent, Dimock said.

In July, Pew showed that while 72 percent of Republicans had given a lot of thought to their choice in November, and only 64 percent of Dems had. That's now changed to 72 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats. "Democratic voters also are as committed to voting, and as certain of their vote, as are their GOP counterparts," Pew wrote. As a result, Obama's lead among likely voters (51 percent to 43 percent) is slightly smaller than his lead among registered voters (51 percent to 42 percent).

Republicans have been touting the enthusiasm numbers as evidence that Romney can eventually pull out a victory, and most polls have shown a large enthusiasm gap in favor of the GOP. But Pew is not the only pollster to show that advantage narrowing for Republicans -- CNN numbers released Sept. 10 also found the gap shrinking.

"A spike in engagement is not unusual at this time of year, whether explicitly linked to the conventions or not," Dimock told TPM. "In early 2008 Democratic engagement levels exceeded those of Republicans, though by Election Day those gaps dissipated. One can't project with any certainty whether the parity between Democratic and Republican intensity levels will persist through the election."

The Pew poll used 3,019 live telephone interviews with Americans (1,806 by landline, 1,213 by cell phone) Sept. 12-16. That was whittled down to a likely voter sample of 2,268, which had a margin of error of 2.4 percent.