Obama 48 (48)
Romney 43 (39)
That four-point jump for Romney was real and significant and takes him from "getting blown out of the water" to merely "lagging quite a bit behind."
But I was more interested in how the debates may have impacted Romney's favorability ratings. Remember, my operating theory of this race is that as long as Romney remains unpopular, there's no way he even makes a race of it. So let's look at those numbers:
First thing to note is that the post-debate sample has more independents and fewer Democrats than the pre-debate one. No, that's not some major conspiracy. Please leave that shit for the other side. It just means that poll samples will float from poll to poll. Nothing nefarious about that.
So check it—Obama's favorables are unchanged from before and after the debate, 56-44. But looking at the crosstabs, Obama stayed solid with Democrats, gained a tiny bit with Republicans, and ... kicked ass among independents. Seriously, flipping his faves among independents from 46-54 to 54-46, a 16-point shift, is a pretty big deal.
Now look at Romney's favorables. He definitely improved, from 46-54 to 51-49. He desperately needs those numbers to improve (and improve further) if he wants to be competitive. So, good news, right?
Well, Romney improved marginally with Democrats and stayed even with independents. So where did he improve? Among Republicans, where his "very favorable" jumped a solid 10 points, from 36 to 46 percent.
So is this what Romney set out to do? Solidify his GOP base and trick some Democrats into thinking that he wasn't as horrible as they thought?
So if the point of the debate was to push undecideds into his column, he appears to have done that with Republicans (by moving left, ha ha). Congrats, Mitt! But at least according to this single point, that won't bring him back into the game.