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Presidential polls: Politics, like Major League Baseball, is numbers-driven

With 23 days and two important debates before Election Day, the presidential race could see major twists and turns. Here are the latest polling data, including an apparent advantage for Obama among early voters.

By Staff writer / October 14, 2012

President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during their first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Oct. 3. They face off again this coming Tuesday.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

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At this point in the presidential race – 23 days and two important debates until Election Day – reading public opinion polls can become obsessive. Together with another numbers-driven professional sport – postseason Major League Baseball – it’s almost too much to bear for a Decoder scribe with a BA in English and an old Radio Shack calculator.

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But we’ll try to sort out the latest numbers (while waiting for Sunday’s MLB playoff games to begin, wondering how the Yankees will do without injured Derek Jeter and his postseason .364 batting average).

Everyone knows that Republican Mitt Romney has squeezed the race into a dead heat since he bested Democrat Barack Obama in their first debate. The Joe Biden-Paul Ryan vice-presidential encounter probably was a draw, although Mr. Biden’s eye-rolling, exaggerated sighing mannerisms, and Mr. Buttinski tactic apparently turned off a lot of people.

RELATED: Presidential debate: 7 defining moments in history (+video)

Still, Sunday morning brought some good news for incumbent Mr. Obama, hunkered down in preparation for Tuesday’s town meeting-style debate, as is Mr. Romney.

According to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks, Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters – a 28-point advantage.

“The sample size of early voters is relatively small, but the Democrat's margin is still well above the poll's credibility interval – a measurement of polls' accuracy – of 10 percentage points,” Reuters reported Sunday morning.

Early voting was an important element in Obama’s 2008 win over John McCain, and it may be even more so this year.

“Seven percent of those surveyed said they had already voted either in person or by mail…. Voting is already under way in some form in at least 40 states,” according to Reuters. “Both the Obama and Romney teams are urging supporters to vote as soon as possible so the campaigns can focus their door-knocking and phone-calling operations on those who are still undecided or need more prodding to get to the polls.”

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