OK, so which one is it?
On the one hand, we’re being told by Rasmussen that Obama’s lead has narrowed from six points a few days ago to either two points when including leaners or one point when looking just at direct preferences stated by registered voters in its daily tracking poll.
On the other, Gallup’s daily tracking poll has Obama opening up a six-point lead, doubling the lead in Gallup that he had yesterday.
Er … so, like, what gives?
Keep in mind that the poll numbers are not as inconsistent as they might seem when you consider the margins of error for both.
That 43-42 lead among voters (without leaners included) in the Rasmussen poll is in a poll with a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points. Theoretically, then, the Rasmussen numbers could have Obama up five points, or McCain up three points.
The 48-42 margin for Obama in the Gallup poll, meanwhile, is also a plus or minus two-percentage point deal. So Obama could be up 46-44, or 50-40, on the two extremes.
Reading the two sets of data at once, I think we could get the idea that the race is holding steady in the range of a two- to four-point lead for Obama.
But it is interesting to note how numbers can vary in this way.