Poll Suggests Romney Continues Surge

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney laughs as he talks with campaign trip director Charlie Pearce after boarding his campaign plane in Sterling, Va., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.
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Mitt Romney continues his rise, according to a Gallup poll released today that suggests he has a seven-point national lead over President Obama.

The tracking poll, which surveyed likely voters, put Romney ahead 52-45, Gallup reported.

The poll, experts cautioned, is one of several that should be gauged to get an accurate assessment of the status of the campaign.

An ABC News/Washington Post survey of likely voters from Oct. 15 had Obama leading Romney 49-46.

Nicolle Wallace, a top aide to Sen. John McCain during his 2008 run and current ABC News analyst, said "the numbers [in the Gallup poll] suggest that the first debate permanently liberated Romney from the caricature that had been created by the Obama campaign's ad onslaught and by Romney's own high profile gaffes.

"If his numbers hold up after his second -- weaker -- debate performance, the Romney campaign will go into the final two weeks with understandable confidence," she said.

Neither the Romney nor the Obama campaigns addressed the latest figures.

The Gallup poll released today presents a rolling average of results gathered during the past week. So any boost Obama might have gained from his more energetic showing in New York Tuesday night is still mostly missing.

Gallup's Oct. 23 report, which will account for all seven days after that second debate, will offer a more clear look at the landscape.

Others were more cautious about the results of the poll.

Stu Rothenberg, author of the respected Rothenberg Political Report, said, "It seems awful big to me, especially since Gallup has shown Obama's job approval rising."

"I would urge real caution on just accepting face value on single survey, no matter who it is. ... I'd want to see other polls showing the same thing before I jump to conclusions," Rothenberg warned.

Another expert on presidential races, Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, was also wary.

"I like Gallup but have a strong sense that this is an outlier, that Romney was, pre-debate, probably ahead nationally by low single digits," he told ABC News.

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