Today, Rasmussen Reports published results of a poll performed yesterday. In it, Newt Gingrich is a mere three points behind Mitt Romney…exactly the sampling margin of error for the poll. In other words, assuming there isn’t some other form of bias, the two candidates are statistically tied.
To some degree, the surge is bolstered by the CBS News/New York Times poll, also published today, which covers the past five days. That poll shows Romney with a seven-point lead, which would make sense if the surge happened after the last debate. It’s also worth noting that this poll covers 340 registered voters, while Rasmussen covers likely voters.
On the other hand, Gallup’s poll (also published today), covering the past four days, and including a thousand registered voters, indicates a 17-point lead by Romney.
One of these polls is not like the others…
What might it mean? One thing we don’t know about the CBS or Gallup polls is the distribution of respondents over the various days. If there is a late surge, a bias of respondents toward the earlier days could mask the surge somewhat. The polls ending prior to the debate show Romney with a comfortable lead in the neighborhood of 20 points. That the post-debate polls all show tightening, albeit to varying degrees, suggests that the Gingrich Surge might be real.