As every political pundit knows, and often asserts, a poll is a poll is a poll. Regardless, President Obama, for the moment, should be pleased to learn that he has as much as a seven to 11 point lead over Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, depending on the poll.
This is particularly noteworthy since the polls were mainly conducted among independent voters, who will play a significant role in the election outcome in November.
In a Fox News poll conducted last week, independent voters favored Obama by 11 percentage points, up from the 4 percent lead over Romney last month.
Equally favorable for the president was the CNN/ORC poll last Tuesday and Wednesday, where 52 percent of independents looked unfavorably on Romney, an increase of 12 percent from a poll conducted in May right after he won the nomination.
Obama received more than 19 million independent votes in 2008, roughly the same number who voted for Ross Perot in 1992, according to independentvoting.org.
While the independent vote is critical, the current poll results could change dramatically and neither candidate should gloat or panic. However, if the election were held today, Obama would best Romney in the popular vote 49 to 40 percent, the Fox News poll found. The poll was conducted among more than 900 registered voters, via landline and cell phone, with a plus or minus sampling error of 3 percent. A similar margin of error was assigned to the CNN/ORC poll of more than a thousand interviews by telephone, the bulk of whom were registered voters.
What is interesting about the polls is the extent to which they provide a balance of ideological tendencies, with Fox veering to the right and CNN to the left. This should stifle any claims by the Romney camp of partisanship.
Even so, there are other polls, particularly on the national level, that suggest the race is very close, and anything can happen in the remaining three months.