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Gov. Chris Christie said a narrow win for the national health care law in the U.S. Supreme Court helped boost President Barack Obama’s poll numbers over his Republican opponent for the moment. But, he said, the race for the White House is a statistical dead heat.
"If you look at most of the polls, this is a margin-of-error race on Fourth of July between Mitt Romney and the president," Christie, a top surrogate for Romney, said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday.
"And if for any Republican, if I had told them in January, in the middle of the scrum between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary with Mitt Romney getting beaten up by all those people on the stage, ‘Don't worry. On Fourth of July, it'll be a dead heat race between the president and Mitt Romney’ every Republican would have signed up for that. So let's keep everything in perspective. This is a margin-of-error race. It's going to be a close election. But I think Governor Romney is in [a] really good position right now as the challenger to be able to make the case over the next number of months that he can win," Christie said.
Are Obama and Romney facing off in a "margin-of-error race," as Christie claims? PolitiFact New Jersey found most polls back up the governor.
We reviewed more than a dozen polls, conducted by different organizations, that asked respondents about who they would vote for in the 2012 presidential election. Only two of those polls found a difference between Obama and Romney that could not be impacted by the survey’s margin of error.
A July 2 report from Gallup found respondents split 48 percent in favor of Obama to 43 percent in favor of Romney. That poll had a margin of error of 2 percentage points, not enough to swing the results another way.
Charles H. Franklin, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and co-founder of Pollster.com, said "you can easily find some polls where the margin is within the margin of error and a few now and then that are outside the margin of error."
But the fact that a poll falls outside of the survey’s sampling error "doesn’t mean that poll was right," he said, citing a June 20 Bloomberg poll that found Obama 13 points ahead of Romney as an example.
Recent polls from CNN, Fox News, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Pew Research and others, show a more narrow spread between Obama and Romney. Though almost all of those polls had the president ahead of his Republican challenger, the margins of error had the possibility of swinging the results in Romney’s favor.
A CNN/ORC International poll with a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points released July 2 found Obama ahead of Romney, 49 percent to 46 percent.
In a Fox News Poll released June 27, 45 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Obama and 40 percent said they vote for Romney if the election were held today. That survey had a sampling error of 3 percentage points.
"In general all the polls show Obama with a lead within the margin of error," said Peter Woolley, executive director of the PublicMind Poll at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
But, he said, "I wouldn’t call that a dead heat. I think that’s an optimistic pronouncement. When you have poll after poll that puts Obama a little bit ahead then I would say that you’re pretty confident Obama is a little bit ahead."
Christie said that "if you look at most of the polls, this is a margin-of-error race on Fourth of July between Mitt Romney and the president."
PolitiFact New Jersey reviewed 13 recent polls from different organizations, nearly all of which put Obama ahead of Romney. Only two of those polls showed the president with a lead outside of the margin of error.
We rate this claim True.
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
CNBC, Squawk Box interview with Gov. Chris Christie, July 3, 2012
Interview with Charles H. Franklin, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and co-founder of Pollster.com, July 3, 2012
Interview with Peter Woolley, professor of comparative politics and Executive Director of the PublicMind Poll at Fairleigh Dickinson University, July 3, 2012
Real Clear Politics, General Election: Romney vs. Obama, accessed July 3, 2012
Talking Points Memo, Poll Tracker, accessed July 3, 2012
HuffPost Politics Election Dashboard, 2012 General Election: Romney vs. Obama, accessed July 3, 2012
PollingReport.com, White House 2012: General Election, accessed July 3, 2012
Gallup, Obama Now Leads Romney, 48% to 43%, July 2, 2012
Bloomberg News National Poll released June 20, 2012
CNN/ORC Poll from July 2, 2012
Fox News Poll released June 27, 2012
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