Signs Of An Obama Convention Bounce?

Sean Shephard at National Journal notes that there are signs of a convention bounce in Gallup’s most recent polling:


This week’s Democratic National Convention has delivered a bump in President Obama’s poll numbers, according to new Gallup data released on Friday that show Obama out-bouncing Mitt Romney in the immediate wake of the Democratic Party’s gathering.

A slight majority of Americans, 52 percent, surveyed Tuesday through Thursday said that they approve of the job Obama is doing as president, his highest approval rating since early June 2011, a month after the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden. Forty-three percent disapprove in the latest poll.

In Gallup’s horse-race tracking poll, conducted over the past seven evenings among registered voters, Obama leads Romney, 48 percent to 45 percent. That is not a significant change from the previous seven-day sample, when Obama and Romney were statistcally tied, 47 percent to 46 percent respectively. But the wide range of field dates for this tracking poll means that any bounce could lag behind other, more immediate surveys; today’s release is the first conducted entirely after Romney’s acceptance speech last week.

You can see the movement in the polls more clearly in this chart, which shows the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll for the period from August 24th through today, the two week period during which both conventions took place:

There are also signs of an uptick for Obama during the time the Democratic Convention took place in Rasmussen’s Tracking Poll, which currently has Romney leading by a single point after several days in the wake of the Republican Convention where it showed Romney leading by anywhere from three to four points.

There are obviously only two data points, and it’s still too early to tell what impact the Democratic Convention may have had on the race. Additionally, we don’t know what impact today’s unemployment numbers will have on voter sentiment. For the moment, though, it appears that the President got a moderate bounce in the polls from what most people believe was a successful convention. Whether it continues into the opening week of the final stretch of the 2012 campaign is another question.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jr says:

    Hopefully Bill Clinton did enough to keep BO approvals in 48-50 ball park for the next couple of weeks lol.

  2. legion says:

    I would be more surprised if this weren’t happening. The conventions largely confirmed what each party’s bases already knew. Love him or hate him, Obama is still the same guy he’s been the last few years. The difference is that Romney is also the same guy people who aren’t rabidly partisan always feared he was. And while their interest is dropping, Dems got a bit more fired-up.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    As described in a different thread, this is the Obama Narrative Pull. People want to be convinced to vote for Obama. They don’t basically want the answer to be Romney.

  4. Me Me Me says:

    More significant is the news that got lost in the convention coverage: Romney’s plutocratic friends are pulling their ad buys in PA and MI because polling indicates that Romney is falling further and further behind in those two states and has no realistic chance of winning them.

    Furthermore, nobody is putting any money into Wisconsin, to try to drive home whatever advantage having Ryan on the ticket might bring.

    So how on earth is Romney going to peel off the 96 EC votes from Obama’s 2008 tally that he has to get in order to win?


  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The chances of not having a bounce for Obama in the media polling are about the same as the chances of there not being high relative rates of poverty, crime, murder, dropouts and teen pregnancies, in big liberal cities controlled for decades by liberal Democrats. Which is to say: none, bloody none.

    In any case, for obvious reasons Obama will win the pre-election media polling. Hell, the day before the election Obama will have won the Electoral College, according to the media polling. But for reasons equally as obvious it’ll be phrased as falling within the margin of error, thereby allowing the media to pimp the inevitable “dead heat” headlines.

    Of course Obama also will win the media’s early exit polling on Election Day. For reasons that John Kerry and Tom Barrett and many others know all too well.

    Whether or not that all translates into Obama actually winning the election, however, remains to be seen. It might. But it might not.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    It’s all a conspiracy, Tsar. Reality is out to get you!

  7. michael reynolds says:

    What Tsar and others can’t wrap their heads around is that not everyone hates Obama like they do. They cannot imagine that anyone – certainly not a white person – could fail to hate Obama. I mean, they’ve been sucking up all that sweet, sweet Ailes-Limbaugh hate milk and cannot contemplate that everyone isn’t just as hooked as they are.

    Where’s the hate? There has to be hate.

    This is where the conservative inability to empathize, to have or use an actual imagination, becomes a real liability. Pssst: not everyone is you. Not even the white folks are all just like you. Not even, (gasp!) the white males are all like you.

    Tsar, dude: I’m white. I’m male. I’m in (the bottom of) the 1%. I am self-employed. I am a job-creator. I support Obama. So far, I’ve given the campaign about $1000. Probably give some more.

    I exist. And . . . I am not alone.

  8. MBunge says:

    @Me Me Me: “Hopeless.”

    Not quite hopeless, but it will be an interesting thing for political scientists to ponder. Is Obama going to be spent outbadly enough to drag Mitt over the finish line? Is the number of competitive states too small to allow GOP money to be decisive? Does this “bury the other guy in money” dynamic even work in a race that gets as much free media attention as the Presidency?


  9. Me Me Me says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    The chances of not having a bounce for Obama in the media polling are about the same as the chances of there not being high relative rates of poverty, crime, murder, dropouts and teen pregnancies, in big liberal cities controlled for decades by liberal Democrats. Which is to say: none, bloody none.

    The poorest states in the union (Mississipi, West Virgiania, Arkansas), the ones with the highest crime (Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennesse), dropouts (South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi) and teen pregnancies (Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas) are ALL RED STATES.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Sounds like you’re counting on vote suppression.

  11. JamesCy says:

    The below might explain how Gallup’s poll managed to come up with such a great “Obama’ bounce”

    The “brown shirts are coming, the brown shirts are coming!” Apparently Obama/Axelrod, if they don’t like your poling data now simply call up the United States Department of Justice and have them sue you, just ask Gallup-see below article


    Internal emails between senior officials at The Gallup Organization, obtained by The Daily Caller (TheDC), show senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod attempting to subtly intimidate the respected polling firm when its numbers were unfavorable to the president.

    After Gallup declined to change its polling methodology, Obama’s Department of Justice hit it with an unrelated lawsuit that appears damning on its face.

    TheDC is withholding the identities of the Gallup officials to protect them from potential retaliation from Obama’s campaign and his administration.

    In April, Axelrod tweeted that a poll showing Mitt Romney with a 48-43 percent lead over Obama was “saddled with some methodological problems,” directing his Twitter followers to read a National Journal story criticizing Gallup polls showing a Romney lead.

    In that National Journal piece, Ron Brownstein wrote that the polls showing Romney leading the president had “a sample that looks much more like the electorate in 2010 than the voting population that is likely to turn out in 2012.”

    Internally, Gallup officials discussed via email how to respond Axelrod’s accusations. One suggested that it “seems like a pretty good time for a blog response,” and named a potential writer.

    In response to that suggestion, another senior Gallup official wrote — in an email chain titled “Axelrod vs. Gallup” — that the White House “has asked” a senior Gallup staffer “to come over and explain our methodology too.”

    Folks, welcome to Venezuela

  12. Me Me Me says:

    @JamesCy: Adjust your tinfoil. The DOJ has been looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that Gallup is defrauding taxpayers since 2009.

    Why would an administration take a gamble as big as a retaliatory use of the DOJ for something as meaningless as a few points movement in one meaningless poll?

  13. michael reynolds says:


    So, if Gallup’s next number is better for Mr. Romney will we still be Venezuela? I’m confused. What country will will be?

  14. Ed in NJ says:

    @Me Me Me:

    the short answer:

    He’s not going to.

    This is something I’ve been trying to point out for months. When surveys of swing states are released, no one ever mentioned that they aren’t really swing states as we think of them. They are a block of states that Romney basically has to sweep in order to win the Electoral College. Taking Penn, MI, and WI out of the equation makes Romney’s task almost impossible.

    The national numbers are meaningless. Winning a bunch of red states 70/30 while Obama wins the blue states 55/45 makes the race look much closer than it really is. Short of a major gaffe by Obama, Romney is toast. Most voters don’t blame Obama for the economy, so the not-Obama strategy only works with the Republican base.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @ JamesCY…
    Yes…If I were you I would believe every word you read in the Daily Caller.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    Folks, welcome to Venezuela

    That’s lovely…keep pushing that, in fact, tell all your friends and family about it…that will help the President more than you can possibly imagine…

  17. Stonetools says:

    I think Any post convention bounce is going to be squelched by the bad job report. As to the likelability issue, that’s not as determinative as people say, IMO. Exhibit one is Richard Nixon, a man who was never that like able but who won two Presidential elections and almost won a third.
    How did he win so many votes? It’s because people felt he was competent. They trusted him to do a good job as President.
    Now Obama is more like able but on top of that, he has been competent in the areas where he has had a free hand. His foreign policy has been excellent overall. Liberals complain about the drone war, and Neo cons want him to be more warlike, but most people agree that he has got it right most of the time. Generally, conservatives who try to make a case against him avoid FP issues because there is nothing there for them.

    On domestic policy, the major issue is unemployment. But again , people aren’t stupid. They know he inherited this mess, that it was a really, really big mess, and that the Republicans have opposed him every step of the way.
    Again with the auto bailout, where he had a free hand, he got it right again. There are a few conservatives who thought the government should have let GM go under, but most people think Obama did the right thing. Also, it’s now pretty clear that conservatives had no idea of how to revive the economy. Re-running the Bush program isn’t a popular choice, since voters have fresh memories of how that ended.
    Romney’sbest chances are to do something great at the debates- and that ain’t likely. Still, there is going to be a tsunami of negative ads by Romney Maybe that will turn the tide.

  18. Scott says:

    There is something odd about the polls right now. Gallup and Rasmussen have Obama Job approval numbers that are about 17 points apart (52-43 and 46-54, respectively). I would take everything with a grain of salt for a few days.

  19. Jr says:

    @Stonetools: Nixon is actually the opposite of that. When he lost to Kennedy in 1960, he reinvented himself into a more likable person and by 68 he was very popular with middle America.

    Nixon’s personal likability really didn’t begin to suffer till after the 72 election.

  20. Jr says:

    @Scott: Rasmussen is GOP hack. A few days prior to the GOP convention he gave Obama a 3 point lead just to make Romney’s “bounce” look greater then it actually was(not much at all……).

    Gallup has there fair share of problems, but they are much better then Rasmussen.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I think Any post convention bounce is going to be squelched by the bad job report.

    As others around here have already pointed out in other threads, the jobs #s have already been programmed into most peoples opinions. If they go negative, it will give people pause.

  22. al-Ameda says:


    @Stonetools: Nixon is actually the opposite of that. When he lost to Kennedy in 1960, he reinvented himself into a more likable person and by 68 he was very popular with middle America.
    Nixon’s personal likability really didn’t begin to suffer till after the 72 election.

    Nixon was never likable, he just seemed to a sane alternative to everything that was happening in 1968.

    Nixon had 2 things going for him in 1968:
    (1) the chaos, both inside and outside the Democratic Convention
    (2) the Vietnam War, by then nearly 30,000 troops dead
    Nixon said he had a ‘secret plan’ to end the war, 5 years later and 20,000 more troops dead, it was over.

  23. KariQ says:

    Convention bounce in Gallup’s poll? Already? No. Too early, too early, too early. Most of the respondents didn’t even have the opportunity to see a single speech from the DNC, not even Michelle’s. We’ll have to wait several days before we know if there was a bounce or not and, if so, how large.

    Such a hurry people are in, it leads them to odd places.

  24. Ernieyeball says:

    Nixon…won two Presidential elections and almost won a third.

    Nixon won his first Presidency in 1968 vs. Hubert Humphery and was reelected over George McGovern in 1972. He resigned in disgrace before his second term expired. Help me here. Did he run for president of the Lions Club?

  25. EddieInCA says:


    1960. He didn’t lose to Kennedy by much.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think it’s as simple as “likability” in the sense of “niceness.” I think it’s a matter of narrative, and especially comparative narrative – this story vs. that story.

    Hubert Humphrey was a terrific guy but his narrative was that he was LBJ’s Veep and had been too gutless to oppose Viet Nam. Nixon’s narrative was that he wasn’t going to get pushed around by damn hippies. And as mentioned above, 1968 was unique.

    Nixon went on the beat McGovern, but McGovern was certainly not particularly likable. He was stuff and charmless.

    But since 1972 the narrative has become more personal, and yes, more about who’s likable, optimistic, etc… because presidents are TV personalities now. There’s a lot more acting in the job now, especially since Reagan, who let’s face it, played the role of Reagan.

  27. Ernieyeball says:

    OK. You got me.
    I guess I thought “almost” only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    Speaking of convention bounces, it’s fun to notice some statements from Mitt’s team on this subject. 8/11/12:

    [Romney] aides also pointed to the upcoming GOP convention in Tampa as an opportunity for Romney to receive a significant bounce in his numbers. They said challengers typically get up to an 11-point bounce


    “the convention bounce isn’t what it used to be”

    By “used to be” he means ‘way back on 8/11.’

  29. stonetools says:

    Looks like I was wrong about that post-convention bounce:

    Obama widens lead over Romney despite jobs data: Reuters/Ipsos poll

    (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, picking up support following the Democratic National Convention, widened his narrow lead over Republican U.S. presidential challenger Mitt Romney in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday.

    The latest daily tracking poll showed Obama, a Democrat, with a lead of 4 percentage points over Romney. Forty-seven percent of 1,457 likely voters surveyed online over the previous four days said they would vote for Obama if the November 6 elections were held today, compared with 43 percent for Romney.


    That really was a great convention. Kudos to Team Obama, they hit it out the park.