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Obama pulling away from Romney in Gallup poll - but beware noisy data

The president reaches 50 percent support for the first time in five months and gains seven points in a week. Meaningful? We'll see.

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President Obama greets US troops today at the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division headquarters at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia. Obama then signed an executive order to help protect US service personnel and their families from deceptive targeting by for-profit educational institutions. (AFP/Getty Images)

With 193 days before election day, polling data seem particularly noisy. But two distinct trends do appear to be emerging in data released today by Gallup.

Versus the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, President Obama has returned to the 50 percent mark in voters’ support for the first time since December 18. In the last seven days, Obama has likewise traded places with Romney, who had been leading, and steadily gained seven points since April 18.

The president now leads Romney by 7 points, the Gallup data show.

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A Real Clear Politics average of all polling data since April 12 gives the president a 4.2-percent advantage.

Results in that time have proved wildly divergent, however.

A CNN poll (PDF) of 970 registered voters conducted between April 13 and April 15 showed Obama leading Romney by 9 points.

But a CBS-New York Times poll conducted on the same dates among 852 registered voters showed the two candidates at tied at 46 percent.

Who is right is anybody’s guess.

CNN reports that the president today is seizing on the issue of allegedly predatory practices by for-profit colleges who target US service personnel.

Obama traveled today to Fort Stewart in Georgia, the home of the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, where he addressed assembled soldiers. He was to unveil a new executive order that would require greater transparency in the schools’ recruitment and marketing practices.

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According to CNN, a Senate report found that eight of the top ten recipients of GI Bill loans are for profit schools. The report said the schools largely recruited ex service personnel, sometimes with the false claim that the federal funding can only be used at such schools, and that the dropout rates are around 40 percent

CNN said the executive order will require the schools to inform prospective students about the true likelihood of career placement after graduation.