Mitt Romney's solid performance at last Wednesday's first presidential debate has finally given him a much-needed lift in the polls. And though the unemployment rate drop has not yet been factored in, the former governor of Massachusetts' temporary bump effectively shifts the election back to its previous horse race status.
A new Reuters/Ipsos online tracking poll has Romney inching 4 points closer to Obama, which puts the race at 44% for Romney and 46% for Obama at the national level. And the good news for the Republicans doesn’t end there. Asked if they felt better about the candidates after the debate, 30% said they did so about Romney and just 14% said they felt better about President Obama.
As for the swing states, conservative-leaning Rasmussen has Romney and Obama neck and neck in the crucial battleground state of Ohio, with Obama holding a 1-point lead over Romney effectively bringing The Buckeye State back to swing state status after having been under the president's column leading to the debate.
In Florida, another crucial state for Romney, Rasmussen found that the Republican nominee's performance in debate reassured voters of the Sunshine State where the former CEO of Bain Capital now holds a narrow 1-point lead over Obama — effectively closing the 10-point edge Obama held before the Denver debacle.
However, in the 11 key states Obama won in 2008 (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin), which provide more than half the electoral votes needed to win the election, the president is still ahead 50%-45%, according to Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll.
Furthermore, these numbers don't include a potential boost that Obama may receive from the unemployment rate drop from 8.1% to 7.8% that could propel the president to the comfortable lead he held before Romney's comeback. In addition, the president's strong September fundraising numbers could further improve his standing among voters.
But there's a caveat to all of this. The surprising result of the presidential debate as well as the equally surprising job numbers are giving the upcoming vice presidential debate even more weight than it what originally had. If Vice President Joe Biden succeeds at unmasking the some of the Republican ticket's inconsistencies regarding Medicare and the deficit, then the Democratic team will be on its way to solidifying support. However, if gaffe-prone Biden sinks himself with any of his many indiscretions, and Ryan achieves a compelling conservative vision for America the way Romney did, it will be catch up time for Obama. The good news is, even three weeks are en eternity in today's vertiginous and volatile cycle of American politics.