By now it's been well-documented on this site as well as the mainstream media that Romney has been doing better in nationwide and state polling in the interval since the first presidential debate. I'm not denying that. But it seems that many of us on here are using our reptile brains get the better of us regarding what it means for the next three weeks.
Remember waaay back, like, two months ago, when this race was neck and neck in national polling? That was the state of national polling ever since Romney clinched the GOP nomination in the spring. Then came the spectacular GOP screw-ups of the poorly-run Tampa convention, Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, and the devastating 47% leaked video. This, in the context of increasingly antsy and frustrated Repubs who figured that with the "weak economy" and the unpopularity of Obamacare, led to much gnashing of teeth and outright finger-pointing by Republicans against Romney. And of course the MSM ran with this story for weeks--"look everybody, Romney is an incompetent moron!".
Any salesman will tell you perception is reality. And because of these events, the perception propogated by Mitt's bad August and September was "Disaster Waiting to Happen". Instead, what we got was a Mitt who was fighting for his life, against an Obama who had bought into the hype that Mitt was going to put both feet into his mouth 5 minutes into the debate, so better just to stand by and not get in the way.
And hence, the "bounce" that we've seen for Romney since then. But really, had the unforced errors of the Eastwooding, the leaked video, and GOP finger-pointing hadn't occurred, probably we would have been looking at this type of race the whole time. Instead of a "Romney surge", I think we're actually looking at a re-establishment of the previous equilibrium.
Now that all said, really, all the hand-wringing is very excessive. The reason everyone is so freaked out is because they think the poll changes are solely from the first presidential debate. This is not the case. Instead, they are a combination of the mediocre Obama performance+a press ready to gin up a tight horse-race for ratings who over-hyped the "loss" (if anyone saw the entire debate, the "win" for Romney was not as nearly as convincing as the MSM has hyped it to be)+the VERY LOUD self-flagellation of the left. This likely galvanized right-leaning voters who were down on Romney from the bad previous two months.
What we're looking at is very similar to a run on Wall Street when a hot commodity is causing a stir--we see hype driving behavior as much or more than the fundamental worth of the commodity. In this case, the reasons mentioned are fueling the hype, but the fundamentals almost all favor Team Obama:
1) Decreasing unemployment--a BIG deal, one that the press underemphasized
2) Increasing consumer confidence
3) Romney and Ryan have to defend VERY difficult positions--the 20% tax rate with increased military spending without explaining how it won't balloon the deficit, the confusing details of Mitt's health care "plan", Vouchercare, etc. Vouchercare and the selection of Ryan will both make Florida a very difficult place for Romney
4) The prevalent extreme Tea party opinions on a variety of things--immigration, women's rights, voter suppression, etc.
5) Despite the first debate, Team Obama is a much savvier group than Team Romney, and has a larger, more established ground game.
So what we have to come to terms with is that this race is NOT over, like we thought after the 47% video. At the same time, the poll changes over the last week do NOT mean that Romney is going to run away. Time to buckle down and keep working to get Obama re-elected--like Markos says, we're ahead. But this thing ain't over til it's over.