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2012 campaign

The Polls Shift Toward Obama

President Barack Obama addresses a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 5

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama addresses a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 5

Anxious poll watchers didn’t have to wait until 1 p.m. Monday to get the results of Gallup’s obsessively followed daily presidential tracking poll. That’s because Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Ira Boudway got ahold of them and published them early. The story they tell is the same one being reflected in other tracking polls: late movement toward President Obama.

In the last Gallup tracking poll of likely voters, on Oct. 29th, Romney led Obama 51-46. Then Hurricane Sandy hit and Gallup put its polling operation on ice for a few days. Monday’s numbers put the race at 49-48 Romney over Obama, essentially a tie.

For most of the past few months, Gallup’s daily track has been a notable outlier in that it consistently showed much bigger Romney leads than other quality tracking polls were showing. Now, Gallup’s numbers have moved in the direction of the other polls. And the other polls show Obama leading narrowly: NBC/Wall Street Journal (Obama +1), ABC/Washington Post (Obama +1), and Pew Research (Obama +3).

Nearly every independent pollster and most reporters expect Obama to win narrowly. Democrats think it will happen, too. But a surprisingly large number of Republicans are expecting a Romney win; some even expect a Romney blowout. I say “surprisingly” because within the mainstream of politics and polling, never before has there been such fundamental disagreement about what was going to happen this late in the game. Come Wednesday morning, one group is going to turn out to have been very, very wrong.

Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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