A Pew national poll shows Obama with a 10-point lead, the suburbs are tricky for the candidates, and New Jersey and Connecticut lean Obama. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter. 

Findings: Obama leads Romney nationwide 51 percent to 41 percent, with 50 percent of voters seeing him favorably compared to 45 percent who see him unfavorably. Romney's favorability is deeper in the hole with 52 percent thinking he is unfavorable compared to 37 percent who think he is favorable. Pollster: Pew

Methodology: 2,508 adults aged 18 or older — 1,956 registered voters — in all 50 states and D.C. were interviewed via telephone (landline and cell phone). The total sample has a margin of error of +/-2.3 percent. The margin of error for the sample of registered voters is +/-3.2 points. 

Why it matters: Whoa there! This poll is far, far out of line of other national surveys. Emily Schultheis at Politico writes that "the 10-point lead for Obama here is bigger than any of the other recent polling we've seen, which have tended to show a fairly static race." The Real Clear Politics' RCP Average of recent polls currently has Obama up by 3 points. In Talking Points Memo poll average, the divide is only 1.8 percent. Over at Business Insider, Brett LoGiurato is calling out the poll for bias:  "Pew surveyed 1,956 registered voters. Of those, 42 percent were Democrats and just 23 percent were Republicans. We can't remember a poll being that imbalanced." Even so, the Pew analaysis says they didn't find all good news for Obama: "Not since Michael Dukakis in 1988 has a Democratic candidate gone into the election with favorability ratings as low as Obama’s are today." Of course, Romney's did worse in this poll, with a net negative favorability rating: "The only prior presidential candidates to be viewed negatively going into the election were George H.W. Bush in October 1992 and Bob Dole in October 1996."

Caveat: The potential for sampling bias here (813 Democrats were surveyed compared to 459 Republicans) means that most people will probably throw these results out.


Findings: Romney and Obama are tied for the love of suburban voters with 46 percent each, which probably does not make Romney very happy who led in a November poll 48 to 40. Independent voters in this category lean toward Romney 45 percent to Obama's 41 percent, but his lead has dwindled since November when he led Obama 54 percent to 29 percent.

Pollster:  National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra

Methodology: 844 registered suburban voters were interviewed via landline or cell phone June 11 through 28. The margin of error is +/-4 percentage points. A total of 1,532 adults were interviewed overall with a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points

Why it matters: According to Newsday, Lawrence Levy from the Center explained that since Obama has the support of urbanites and Romney takes the rural, these suburb-dwellers are ever important. Stanley Kurtz at the National Review Online and in a book is painting Obama as "anti-suburban." That said, nothing is really clear here. What might be a sign though is how much enthusiasm for Romney has dimmed since primary season among independent voters. 

Caveat:  The 46-46 result for suburbanites includes those that lean either Romney or Obama. Without the leaners Romney has 42 percent and Obama has 43 percent. 


Findings: Obama leads in Jersey 49 perecent to Romney's 36 percent. 

Pollster: Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind

Methodology: 945 registered and unregistered voters statewide were surveyed via telephone (landline and cell) July 23 through July 29. The margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. 

Why it matters: New Jersey is weird. Technically it is "blue" but it also likes its governor, Republican Chris Christie. According to the poll, the executive director of PublicMind said this has to do with differences at the national and state level: national Republicans have "taken on more divisive social issues." That said, Obama's lead is pretty comfy. 

Caveat: One wonders about the resulting effect if Christie were to take on a bigger role in the national party.


Findings: Obama now leads Romney 51 percent to 43 percent — up from September — but he beat McCain 61 percent to 38 percent. 

Pollster: Public Policy Polling

Methodology: 771 likely Connecticut voters were surveyed via automated telephone interviews from July 26 through July 29. Margin of error is +/-3.5 percent. 

Why it matters: Dean Debnam, the president of PPP, says it doesn't, really: "“Obama doesn’t actually have to worry about losing Connecticut." The poll just shows he isn't as strong as in 2008.  No Republican has won in the state since 1988

Caveat: PPP leans Democratic.