Insta-polls give President Obama the second debate, and the Connecticut Senate race is still in a dead heat. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Insta-polls find Obama the winner of Tuesday''s debate by smaller margins than Romney won the first debate. CNN finds 46 percent of registered voters gave it to Obama and 39 percent gave it to Romney. CBS finds among uncommitted voters, 37 percent gave it to Obama and 30 percent gave it to Romney.
Pollsters: CNN/ORC International, CBS News,
Methodology: For CNN: Poll of 457 registered voters and a +/-4.5 percentage point margin of error. For CBS: Online poll of 523 uncommitted voters and a +/-4 percentage point margin of error.
Why it matters: Pair these polls as Nate Silver does with even bigger numbers from Google Consumer Surveys and Democratic pollster Lake Research Partners, who looked at voters in battleground states, and we've got something of a consensus. A Public Policy Polling poll out of swing state Colorado gave the president a slimmer margin of victory, only 4 points, while a poll in blue state California conducted by SurveyUSA has him winning 56-32 percent.
Caveat: It's unclear what this will mean for the polls overall. Silver writes: "The relationship between the quick-reaction polls and their eventual effect on the horse-race polls has historically been very modest, and has sometimes even run in the opposite direction of what the initial polls suggested." Nate Cohn at The New Republic cautions: "it wouldn't be wise to expect a big shift in the polls."
Findings: Romney is up by 6 points in the latest Gallup tracking poll.
Methodology: Daily tracking of likely voters.
Why it matters: Gallup has been an increasing source of consternation for Democrats. One poll from USA Today and Gallup this week showed Romney leading in swing states and the two essentially tied among women. Adviser David Plouffe slammed the organization, saying, "Gallup has a terrible likely voter screen," Chris Moody of Yahoo! News reported. Today's number was deemed "astounding" by Brett LoGiurato at Business Insider.
Caveat: This poll, however, takes into account opinions from October 10 through 16, meaning no debate reactions. Meaning, let's not overreact. Dave Weigel added some humor on Twitter: "I'm old enough to remember the first polls after the Denver debate, which didn't include much post-debate opinion and showed Obama gaining."
Findings: Chris Murphy is up by 2 points in the Connecticut Senate race against Republican Linda McMahon.
Methodology: Telephone poll of 552 likely voters October 4 through 14 with a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage points.
Why it matters: In the blue state of Connecticut, this race is still up for grabs. Julie Sobel at the National Journal points out that "the race's nasty tone and ad war has taken a toll on both candidates, who are now seen unfavorably by more people than view them favorably." According to Mark Pazniokas of the CT Mirror, McMahon's ads are highly saturated, and Murphy "has to convince voters that all McMahon really has are scripted talking points and a brochure touting well-worn ideas to cut taxes, not an economic blueprint of any intellectual heft or originality." Meanwhile, the Murphy campaign used statements McMahon made at their Monday debate to compare her position on rape and emergency contraception to Todd Akin's, Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo reported.
Caveat: Obama leading Romney by 15 points in the state, which shows that even if Murphy is barely ahead, McMahon is a surprisingly strong candidate, given her chokeslam business career.