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If one were to take the polls today, on the day after the balloons and confetti dropped on Tampa (they still do that, don't they?), and try to draw conclusions about the political utility of the Republican National Convention, the GOP would probably be pretty pessimistic about the outcome.

However, as I have stressed repeatedly throughout the week, we are, at best, now approaching the point where the polling samples were conducted after a critical mass of the convention coverage took place. With each successive day, the polling impact of the convention will be felt more and more acutely. For now, though, the bounce seems pretty muted, by any objective standard.

Even more troublesome for the GOP: Friday marked the second consecutive day with a raft of downballot polling releases which looked decidedly pessimistic for the Republicans.

On to the numbers:

PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:

NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-46)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (45-44)

WEST VIRGINIA (RL Repass and Partners for the Daily Mail): Romney d. Obama (52-38)

DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
CA-10 (PPP for Democracy for America): Rep. Jeff Denham (R) 48, Jose Hernandez (D) 41

MI-SEN (EPIC-MRA): Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) 51, Pete Hoekstra (R) 44

MN-08 (Global Strategy Group for the DCCC): Rick Nolan (D) 45, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) 44

MN-08 (GBA Strategies for the House Majority PAC): Rick Nolan 47, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) 44

NY-24 (Grove Insight for the DCCC): Dan Maffei (D) 48, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) 42

WV-GOV (RL Repass and Partners for the Daily Mail): Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) 56, Bill Maloney (R) 35

WV-SEN (RL Repass and  Partners for the Daily Mail): Sen. Joe Manchin (D) 66, John Raese (R) 27

A few thoughts, as always await you just past the jump ...

First, the now-standard caveat. Given that most polling concludes for the night before the big-ticket prime-time convention speeches, and given the fact that major news events do need some time to percolate around the coffee table, water cooler, social media, and so on, you cannot yet draw firm conclusions about the political benefit, if any, the GOP will gain from this convention.

Take Gallup, where the GOP is currently saddled with what would be called a "negative bounce." They began the week with Mitt Romney up by a single point. At present, he trails by a single point. However, only about 30-40 percent of the interviews for that tracking poll have been conducted since the convention opened in earnest on Tuesday night. The majority predated the first speeches in Tampa.

That said, during this week (with a shorter three-day tracking sample), President Obama's job approval has actually improved by a net of four percentage points. His job approval in a Saturday-through-Monday sample was 43/48; it was 45/46 in the sample culled from interviews from Tuesday-through-Thursday.

Even the one semi-notable "bounce" for Romney is heavily muted by the fact that it is barely notable except when Ipsos/Reuters employs a likely voter screen. Among likely voters (LV), Romney might have gained four points from Tuesday through Thursday. Among registered voters (RV), however, that shift has been an utterly insignificant single point (from an Obama lead of 43-39 to 42-39).

Ipsos/Reuters poll, Day 2 (Tuesday)

Ipsos/Reuters poll, Day 4 (Thursday)

Rasmussen is not offering much aid and comfort to their preferred candidate, either. Thus far, the convention bounce for Romney has been decidedly muted. The last pre-convention sample (Saturday-through-Monday) was Obama +2. Today's sample? Romney +1. A three-point bounce is also below the historic averages, especially for a trailing and challenging candidate.

Perhaps last night's speech, which won't be fully reflected in polling samples until tonight, set the world on fire, and Romney's best polling days lie immediately ahead of him. If not, he did not give himself much of a cushion (if any, at all) as the Democrats set up in Charlotte for their turn at bat.

In other polling news ...

  • The big polling news of the week, outside of Tampa, may well be the string of uncontested internal polls on the Democratic side that make major shifts in the House, perhaps even a shift in the majority, start to look quite plausible. Today's offerings include a poll giving Democrat Dan Maffei a solid edge in NY-24. That one, however, isn't a surprise: Maffei barely lost his seat in uber-red 2010, and has always been considered a favorite to reclaim the seat. More surprising, perhaps, was the pair of polls which gave comparably underfunded Democrat Rick Nolan a lead over freshman Republican Chip Cravaack in MN-08. Add those to this week polls in places like FL-26 (Rivera versus Garcia) and FL-18 (West versus Murphy), and there may be some cause for cautious optimism over at the DCCC. Especially when you consider how quiet the GOP House incumbents have become about their own internal polling.
  • Speaking of freshman Chip Cravaack, he wins the award this week for the douchiest poll response. Check this out:
    “National Democrats released incomplete results of a poll to prop up Congressman Nolan's struggling campaign,” Cravaack adviser Ben Golnik said in a statement. “Congressman Nolan's support for higher taxes, more deficit spending, and increased rules and regulations is out of step with the vast majority of voters in the 8th District.  In addition, Congressman Nolan is adamantly pro-abortion and supports additional gun control measures.  In the coming weeks, Chip Cravaack will continue to highlight the stark contrast on the important issues facing Minnesota and the country."
    Aside from the tired pablum about dismissing the poll results, check out the rhetorical sleight-of-hand. Referencing Nolan (who served in the House a generation ago) as "Congressman," while referring to the incumbent as "Chip Cravaack." Is Ben Golnik really hoping Iron Range voters will somehow forget that Cravaack isn't the incumbent in this race?!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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