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Romney Edges Obama in Panel-Back Survey Romney Edges Obama in Panel-Back Survey

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CAMPAIGN 2012

Romney Edges Obama in Panel-Back Survey

President Obama and Mitt Romney continue to run neck-and-neck in a CBS News/New York Times poll, with Romney pulling marginally ahead of the president in the wake of Obama's announcement that he supports the right to same-sex marriage.

While a majority of voters say that the two candidates' respective stances on the issue of same-sex marriage -- Romney opposes it -- will have no effect on their vote choice, slightly more Americans say Romney's position makes them more likely to vote for him.

 

Romney leads Obama among registered voters, 46 percent to 43 percent. While this is the first time that Romney had led in the CBS News/New York Times poll, his lead is within the poll's margin of error for registered voters of +/- 4.1 percentage points.

The poll is actually a panel-back survey: Respondents to this poll were originally interviewed in mid-April for the previous CBS News/New York Times poll. In the mid-April survey, Obama and Romney ran dead even, with each candidate earning 46 percent of the vote.

Panel-back surveys are conducted for a number of reasons: Some pollsters occasionally consider it instructive to interview the same universe of people before and after a specific event. In other cases, it is simply cheaper to dial phone numbers behind which pollsters know are voters who are willing to answer public-opinion surveys; in doing so, pollsters avoid many of the nearly four-in-five adults who decline to participate in telephone polls.

 

But the practice also has drawbacks. Not every respondent to the original poll is available or willing to be interviewed again; indeed, of the 852 registered voters interviewed last month, just 562 were re-interviewed for this survey. Some analysts also believe that the experience of being interviewed previously affects how they view the race, potentially making them more likely to seek out information about politics and the presidential race, though the results of the poll are virtually identical to those of the previous survey.

The new poll also shows slightly more support for Romney's opposition to same-sex marriage. Twenty-three percent of voters say they are more likely to support Romney for this reason, more than the 17 percent who say it makes them less likely. Fifty-nine percent say Romney's opposition will have no effect.

For Obama, the results are reversed. One-in-four voters say their support of same-sex marriage makes them less likely to vote for Obama, while only 16 percent say it makes them more likely. A majority, 58 percent, say it has no effect.

Results of the poll, released earlier on Monday, showed that 38 percent of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry, with a majority favoring some measure of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

 

Overall, the percentage of respondents to both polls who disapprove of Obama's job performance has ticked up slightly, from 42 percent to 48 percent. Fully half of Americans responding to both polls approve of how the president is handling his job, up from 48 percent last month.

A CBS News analysis of the poll notes that, with the exception of a poll closely following the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces, its results represent Obama's highest approval rating since April 2010. This conclusion, however, should carry an asterisk due to the poll's unusual methodology.

The new panel-back poll was conducted May 11-13. The overall sample of 615 adults carries a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

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