Is the so-called Romney surge real, or is it more a product of the fact President Obama lost some steam after his disappointing performance during the first debate?
For all of the talk about a potential President Romney, and the fact that the Republican challenger has indeed closed the gap across a variety of polls, the math to the magical 270 electoral votes that'll put the winner in the White House is still steeper for Romney than it is for the president.
On Wednesday, a total of eight national tracking polls were published. According to FiveThirtyEight, Romney gained ground in just one of them while losing in five others. The NY Times polling aggregator suggests that, while it is yet to be determined if Obama is experiencing a surge right after his last two debate wins, no candidate who is experiencing a wave of momentum (Romney) is going to lose support -- unless we're looking at some kind of ceiling to that momentum.
And the trend mirrors Gallup's national tracking poll which last week ruffled some feathers at the Obama camp when showed Romney opening a 7-point lead over Obama. Just like Republicans did when Obama held double-digit leads before the Denver debate, Democrats cried foul and dismissed the Gallup survey as an "outlier." Their claim seems legitimate now, as the Gallup gap between the candidates has closed, leaving Romney well within the margin of error compared to President Obama.
FiveThirtyEight also found a "slightly favorable trend" for the president over the last couple of weeks, as Romney's position peaked on Friday (October 12) tying the president when it comes to the popular vote. By Wednesday, however, the president was 1.4 points ahead of the governor.
This trend suggests that, while Obama and Romney could be tied in the popular vote come Election Day (and even if Romney wins it), the president still holds a narrow advantage in the Electoral College that — combined with the early vote and the Obama campaign strong ground game in crucial states like Ohio — should renew his contract for another four years despite what it seems like a threatening challenger breathing down the neck of current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.