Poll Showing Obama Well Ahead Differs From Other Surveys

Steven Shepard
June 20, 2012

A majority of Americans approve of President Obama's job performance, and Obama leads Mitt Romney in his bid for a second term by a significant margin, according to a new Bloomberg News poll released Wednesday that contradicts almost all other public polling in the race.

Obama leads Romney among those Americans who say they are likely to vote in November, 53 percent to 40 percent. Five percent of likely voters are undecided.

Among all adults, 53 percent approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 44 percent disapprove. Fifty-five percent have a favorable opinion of Obama, compared to 42 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. Romney's ratings tilt net-negative: 39 percent view him favorably, and 48 percent view him unfavorably.

Obama's 13-point margin over Romney in the poll is a significant change from the previous Bloomberg News poll and runs counter to other publicly available surveys. In the previous poll, conducted in March, Obama and Romney were in a dead heat, with each candidate at 47 percent among likely voters. The broader pool of Americans was also split on Obama's job performance, with virtually as many approving as disapproving. Meanwhile, the latest Gallup tracking poll, conducted over the last seven days, shows the two candidates in a virtual tie among registered voters. (Gallup's polls have tended to show slightly worse numbers for Obama due to some methodological differences, the Huffington Post reported Sunday, though this Bloomberg survey is well outside that effect.)

The Bloomberg News story accompanying the poll's release published early Wednesday morning seems to preempt a lot of the skepticism that the poll is likely to engender. The story points out that the Democratic party-identification edge is just 5 percentage points, less than their 7-point margin in the 2008 exit poll, and less than the Democratic lead in party ID in polls conducted over the past few months by other major news organizations that showed a closer race. The story also states that the poll's sample, with regard to composition by race and gender, is "in line with other national polls." Obama's vote share among white voters (43 percent) is higher in this poll than in other surveys, the story notes.

The poll was conducted by Selzer & Company in Des Moines, Iowa, which has polled for Bloomberg News for some time and also conducts the well-respected Des Moines Register poll. J. Ann Selzer, the firm's president, emphasized to National Journal in an e-mail Wednesday morning that while Obama leads among those who say they are likely to vote, "the race is very close among the most enthusiastic" of those likely voters.

Despite the horserace numbers, the poll does contain some troubling signs for Obama. Just 31 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, and majorities disapprove of Obama's performance in handling the economy and the budget deficit. But 45 percent of Americans say they are better off than they were at the beginning of 2009, more than the 36 percent who say they are worse off.

The Bloomberg poll surveyed 1,002 adults from June 15-18. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points. The poll includes 734 likely voters; those results carry a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage points.