Romney takes slight lead in new Gallup poll

Mitt Romney speaks at a Colorado Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting in Denver, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

In its first daily tracking poll of likely voters, Gallup found that Mitt Romney holds a slight lead nationally over President Obama, 49 percent to 47 percent. The poll was conducted from Oct. 2-8, mostly following the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.

Among all registered voters surveyed for its daily tracking poll, Gallup reported today that Mr. Obama still holds a lead, albeit a tighter one than he did yesterday. Gallup reported today that among registered voters surveyed Oct. 2-8, Mr. Obama leads, 49 percent to 46 percent. Yesterday in its Oct. 1-7 daily tracking poll, Gallup showed Mr. Obama leading among registered voters, 50 percent to 45 percent.

The difference between Gallup's "likely" voters" and "registered voters" surveys underscores how important turnout will be in this election.

As CBS News' director of surveys Sarah Dutton explained, "likely" voters sometimes refers to voters who tell the pollster they are "very" or "somewhat" likely to vote in an upcoming election, but many polls use a more complex process to determine who's "likely" to vote. Gallup says that its calculation of likely voters is based on registered voters' responses to a seven-question series that it has fine-tuned over six decades of polling.

Gallup noted that Mr. Obama's lead among registered voters is similar to the lead he held seven days prior to last week's presidential debate, suggesting that any polling benefit Romney received from his strong debate performance could be short-lived.

Gallup's three-day tracker of Mr. Obama's approval rating showed a slight improvement for the president, who now has a 53 percent approval rating.

In an Washington Post/ABC poll released today, Mr. Obama receives a 55 percent favorability rating -- his highest popularity rating in the Post/ABC poll since Spring 2010. Another 44 percent of registered voters in the poll said they have a negative view of the president.

Romney has had a likability problem throughout his campaign, but the Post/ABC poll suggests the tide may be turninng. While 51 percent of registered voters still have a negative view of the Republican candidate, 47 percent now have a positive view of him, marking the highest popularity rating he's received in the Post/ABC poll in this election.

Romney, meanwhile, holds slight leads in two key states, according to new American Research Group (ARG) surveys. In Ohio, Romney leads Mr. Obama 48 percent to 47 percent -- within the poll's four-point margin of error. A month earlier, the numbers were flipped in the ARG Ohio poll, with Mr. Obama leading 48 percent to 47 percent.

In Colorado, Romney leads 50 percent to 46 percent. Once again, Romney's lead is within the four-point margin of error. Last month, ARG showed Mr. Obama leading in Colorado, 49 percent to 47 percent.