We don't have any new swing state polls today. The closest thing is a Rasmussen poll of Missouri showing Romney up by just 3%. Missouri is fairly close, but the Obama campaign is not really in a position to try and expand the map at this point, particularly after last night's debate performance which likely will tighten the polls a bit.
And speaking of post-debate poll tightening, we have our first post-debate national numbers from Reuters.
Originally published at No We Can't Politics.
* Their pre-debate poll had Obama leading 48% to 41%. Their post-debate poll had Obama leading 48% to 43%. In other words, Romney gained 2%, Obama gained 0%, for a net gain of 2% for Romney.
* Romney's favorability rating increased to 51% in the post-debate poll, the first time he has had a positive favorable/unfavorable rating. Obama's favorability rating was 56% before the debate and 56% after the debate.
* Romney made gains on most issues and now leads on the economy, job creation, and the deficit. Obama still leads on taxes, Social Security, and Medicare, but Romney narrowed the gap in those areas.
On the surface, these numbers seem to indicate a slight post-debate national bounce for Romney, which would indicate probably a slightly smaller bounce in swing states where there are fewer undecideds left. That is basically what I predicted would happen in my post-debate review last night.
However, I want to caution that the full impact of an event like a debate takes several days. While the Reuters poll may account for the instant boost for Romney from those who watched last night, it doesn't take into account the chatter about the debate that will now take place today, tomorrow, and over the weekend. That could cause Romney's bounce to get biggeer since the media has declared him the clear winner of the debate and will likely continue to reinforce that for days. Or Romney's debate victory could be a bit diluted over the next few days as the media focuses on some of the misleading things he said during it and the Obama campaign goes on offense over those misleading statements.
We will need to see what national polls say in a few days, and more importantly, what type of movement we see in the swing states. For example, if Romney does not get a significant bounce in Ohio, everything else is meaningless because he won't win the election without Ohio.
Romney won the debate last night, but I don't think the debate delivered a moment that will be remembered beyond the short-term. Romney, while much sharper and more aggressive than Obama, did not do anything to make people suddenly like him. He came off as prepared and competent, and Obama just came off as tired and lifeless, which made Romney look that much better. Romney's core vulnerabilities -- lack of likability, lack of empathy, no defining humanizing moment -- all remain. And he also now has a vulnerability with his tax plan which he seems to be giving conflicting messages on. But it's Obama's job to make people go back to focusing on those vulnerabilities, and not the strengths Romney projected last night at the debate. Romney still needs that positive defining moment, and until he gets it, he is unlikely to win.
On the flip side, Obama lost some of the fighter appeal he had built up for himself over the past few months. He looked nothing like a fighter last night, but rather a somewhat demoralized, tired candidate. He will need to regain his energy and his fight and go back to doing what his campaign has been doing successfully for months -- defining Romney, putting him on the defensive, and making the election a referendum on Romney.
My hunch is that Romney's bounce will stay in the 2%-3% range. Obama led by around 4%-5% nationally going into the debate. If Romney gets a 2%-3% bounce, it'll cut Obama's national lead to 2%-3%, which is where we were prior to the conventions starting. Where things go from there will depend on who takes control of the narrative next week. The VP debate is next week but they rarely have much of an impact. What will matter is which candidate, Obama or Romney, gets back on offense first with a message that works. Prior to last night's debate, Obama was dominating these types of campaign tactics. If he can get back to that, he can dilute some of the gains Romney secured last night. That will take us into the second debate, and in that one, Obama will need a much more spirited performance.
For now, Obama remains in control of the race and in position to win, but Romney has gained ground and has the potential to continue to do so if Obama doesn't regain his footing. The polls that come out over the weekend and next week will give us a clear idea of where things stand following the first debate.
Originally published at No We Can't Politics.