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We have several new swing state polls in today and they all continue to show a shift to Mitt Romney following last week's debate. At this point, it is pretty clear that Romney's debate bounce has outweighed whatever counter-bounce Obama might have gotten from the drop in the unemployment rate, and may have actually wiped out all the gains Obama had gathered since the Democratic convention and the release of the 47% video. That being said, there are several factors to consider when evaluating the "new normal" state of the race.

First the numbers, then my analysis.

Originally published at No We Can't Politics.

I'll be tweeting my thoughts on the VP debate live Thursday night, so be sure to follow me on Twitter.

* OHIO: Obama 51%, Romney 47% -- No previous poll (CNN)
* OHIO: Romney 48%, Obama 47% -- Romney +2% since 1 month ago (ARG)
* NEVADA: Obama 47%, Romney 47% -- Romney +2% since 3 weeks ago (Rasmussen)
* COLORADO: Romney 50%, Obama 46% -- Romney +6% since 3 weeks ago (ARG)
* NEW HAMPSHIRE: Obama 47%, Romney 41% -- Romney +9% since 2 weeks ago (WMUR)
* NORTH CAROLINA: Romney 50%, Obama 41% -- No previous poll (Gravis)

Taking these numbers in as a whole continues the trend we've seen since the debate -- a shift to Romney in pretty much every state. In some states, the shift has been bigger, in others smaller, but it's there just about everywhere. Yes, a lot of the polls released since the debate have been from Republican-leaning pollsters like Rasmussen, Gravis, ARG, etc. But if we're going to be fair, we have to look at all the data as a whole, and more importantly, the trendlines, which all continue to go Romney's way.

It's also worth noting that the gap between registered voters and likely voters continues to grow, as evidenced by Gallup now switching to a likely voter model and showing a 2% Romney lead, as well as the fact that the CNN Ohio poll had a 10% lead for Obama among registered voters, but just 4% among likely voters. This seems to point to an ever-increasing enthusiasm gap for Democrats.

That being said, in what has been a largely positive week for Romney, and probably Obama's worst of the campaign in terms of polling, one silver living for Obama is that he has had data out this week showing him still up in Ohio, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Those are crucial states for him, along with Nevada, as they form his best shot at some sort of electoral college firewall. Right now, if we look at the averages of those states, that firewall is barely holding on:

* OHIO: Obama +0.7%
* IOWA: Obama +3.2%
* NEW HAMPSHIRE: Obama +6.0%
* NEVADA: Obama +3.5%

So even with Romney at the absolute peak of his campaign so far this year, he remains behind in the averages of all these states. It's also worth noting that the Ohio average does not include polls from NBC/WSJ, CBS/NYT, and Washington Post, the three pollsters that showed the largest Obama leads in Ohio previously. It will be important to see what their new polls say whenever they come out, and how much of a shift to Romney they record. Still though, unless there is a tidal wave shift, they are likely to further pull Obama's Ohio average lead up.

With that firewall currently holding, Obama is hanging on right now in the face of big momentum for Romney. The question now is, how much more of a shift to Romney are we going to see, or has it maxed out?

It is without question now that Romney has gotten a significant boost from the debate last week and has fought back from the brink of defeat to what looks like a national tie. Obama's debate performance has been very costly. Romney is also back in the game in the electoral college -- the polling averages work out to 294 Obama, 244 Romney while the 538 forecast has it at 296.7 Obama, 241.3 Romney. Romney has made gains everywhere. But it's worth noting that the electoral college remains in Obama's favor (even though the national polling may, in fact, be tied now).

We do seem to have a "new normal" now in that what was looking like a 2008-type electoral route early last week is now looking a bit more like a 2004-type squeaker that will rest on a few key states. As I've been saying for over a month, North Carolina at this point seems like a questionable investment for the Obama campaign. It is hard to see him winning North Carolina without winning the national vote by at least 5%, and right now, it seems more likely that the national vote will be well below a 5% difference, perhaps within 2%-3% or less. In that scenario, North Carolina is not going to matter. The money and resources allocated there could make a difference for Obama in states like Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire where he remains ahead even at his weakest point in the campaign, as well as states like Florida and Virginia which, in this "new normal" of a much closer race, figure to be toss-ups. Keep in mind that Obama only had a tie in the North Carolina polling average at his highest point in the campaign two weeks ago.

So yes, we do have a "new normal." The race is much tighter now, and Obama no longer looks to be in position for an electoral landslide. But we also have to remember that we are in the middle of the most volatile time of the campaign, particularly one that is close -- debate season. Just like Romney gained huge momentum overnight with the first debate, we can see shifts of that magnitude just as quickly with the second and third debates. It's important to not get too swayed in one way or another by a day's polling. The trends absolutely favor Romney right now, but the overall fundamentals of the race still favor Obama. That could change. If Romney wins the next debate in convincing fashion like he did last week, it could be devastating for Obama as it would show the electorate that the first debate wasn't a fluke. At the same time, Obama has a chance to completely erase the first debate by simply showing up and being aggressive and passionate in the second one.

The small percentage of swayable voters have shown themselves to have a very short memory this election season. They were swayed after the Democratic convention to Obama. They were swayed again to Obama after the 47% video. But then much of that swayable group was swayed back to Romney after the debate. In other words, they are swayable, and will likely remain so for awhile. It'll be up to Obama to sell it at the next debate, just like it will be up to Romney to sell it.

I wrote earlier today about how the Obama campaign seems to be losing the messaging battle since the debate. They have flipped places with the Romney campaign -- now they are the one with helter-skelter, short-term, small attacks like the Big Bird thing -- not the ones with the long-term, broader, grander attacks. As I said in that article, the Big Bird thing reminds me of the Joe the Plumber attack by the McCain campaign in 2008 -- it may have rallied the base a bit, and it was an entertaining distraction, but nobody else cared much and it didn't move many votes. The Obama campaign will need to get back onto a grand message that hurts Romney.

Unfortunately for Obama, he may not have a legitimate chance to do that in the current media climate until the next debate. To use a baseball analogy, it's like when a closing pitcher comes in and blows a save. He can talk about what went wrong all night, but people aren't going to stop talking about that blown save and blaming that pitcher for it, and analyzing what went wrong, and praising the guy who got a hit off of him to win the game, until he goes back out there and closes the next game successfully. That's the only way to get past it. That is what Obama will need to do.

But for now, Obama's electoral college firewall is holding up in the face of continued momentum for Romney.

Originally published at No We Can't Politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well that was a big-time downer . . . (6+ / 0-)

    Just before bed time . . .

  •  "Entertaining distraction"? You mean the one that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3

    became one of the focal points of a major-party presidential run, a darling of the conservative media, and is currently running for a Congressional seat in Ohio?

    That one?

    If you really, really believe Obama's going to "take your guns" - you're probably not stable enough to have one in the first place.

    by here4tehbeer on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 10:55:51 PM PDT

  •  The firewall (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kombema, George3, Stude Dude, JimWilson

    SS, Medicare and Medicaid off the lame duck table, tax the rich and corporations.

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 10:58:16 PM PDT

  •  Look...... (22+ / 0-)

    The Gravis poll also said 57% of African Americans & 33% of Latinos now support Mitt Romney over the President.

    African Americans are now deserting President Obama & flocking to Mitt Romney?

    I'm upset about the polls too, but I haven't completely lost my mind.  African Americans are deserting the President because of one 90 minute debate?

  •  Conclusions may be slightly premature... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kombema, George3, AuroraDawn

    I would say that the jury isn't QUITE out just yet on whether "whatever counter-bounce Obama might have gotten from the drop in the unemployment rate." We don't have a lot of polls that were taken strictly after the unemployment numbers were released. Most seem to include at least the very day that the employment numbers which were released, which there is some evidence to suggest may have been Obama's single worst polling day of the year.

    That being said, I DO think it's highly likely that Romney probably made real gains from the debate that are unlikely to evaporate completely, but I also think we're not quite at the point where we can draw conclusions about what's happening with the "bump" he got. I think we'll have a clearer picture Friday, and may not know exactly where the race really is until early next week. Given what we know about his bounce so far, it's possible things won't look quite as bad (or, it's possible it will.. guess we'll see).

  •  North Carolina is a good investment (6+ / 0-)

    Something I posted earlier - Obama is running strong in the Kerry states + NV + NM. That's 257. Any one of Florida, Ohio, or North Carolina puts Obama over 270 in that scenario. Also, while there's other dynamics in play, Democrats do hold a 700,000 lead in voter registration. If the GOTV operation works well, it could easily turn blue and would be a knockout punch.

    Also, as for the state of things - I have a feeling that we just took Romney's best shot and we're still standing and ahead on points.

  •  I refuse to look at any more polls until (8+ / 0-)

    after the next debate.

    Disguised as a mild mannered president of the Daily Democrat, SuperObamaMan is preparing mentally for the next battle: debate number two. He will be fired up and ready to contain and address The Liar, whose loose lips swayed uninformed voters and biased media in debate number one. This debate, at sea level, hopes to see a confident, fact-based tsunami from President Obama, sweeping his opponent away in a torrent of truth. The nation and the world need him to rise to the occasion and vanquish the Vulture Capitalist and his alter ego, Bankster Man. Stay tuned...

    Tracy Knauss

    SuperObamaMan

    “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

    by hungrycoyote on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:15:54 PM PDT

    •  OMG, hungrycoyote (0+ / 0-)

      Your comment made me tear up...I've come to the realization that, this particular election is not good for a political neophyte like me, but I have not given up.... I still donate money, and time to help PBO... However, I am sad, and I'm becoming very afraid....

      The GOP hate me! I'm black, a woman, disabled veteran, divorced mother and liberal. THEY SUCK!

      by secret38b on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 04:57:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think it's too early to declare a "new normal" (6+ / 0-)

    So much of the polling since the debate still largely reflects that disastrous Thurs-Sat. period (Friday in particular).  And of course, much of the polling has been from right-wing/unreliable pollsters eager to get their numbers out.

    I still want to see what happens when we get polling from better sources.  Slowly but surely we're getting more useful state numbers.  Ann Selzer, PPP, and CNN/ORC all gave the President pretty positive results, albeit tighter than before.  Even the Rasmussen polls have been neutral for Obama; they've only shown a slight shift toward Romney from previous Ras polls.  

    It shouldn't take too much longer for us to get enough high-quality polls taken after last Friday.  At the very minimum, we're getting a set of NBC/Marist polls from FL/OH/VA and a PPP poll of Nevada on the state side; and we should be getting at least a couple of non-tracking national polls.  

    I think when the dust clears, we'll be somewhere between a squeaker and a 2008 map.  The debate will be behind us, yet 7.8% will be great for Democrats through Nov. 6th.

  •  I knew many Americans were stupid, but to be this (13+ / 0-)

    Stupid that a 90 minute performance could so sway many is simply shocking. If Americans thought Bush was a disaster, wait for the disaster Romney will lay on this country. Many need to get off their pouty asses and realize electing Romney could lead the country down a road of eternal damnation.

    •  Yes, they are... (4+ / 0-)

      Or at the very least, they're not very interested in politics, but still vote because its their civic duty or whatever.

      So, they want to make an informed decision, right? Better turn on the debate and see what's happening. Maybe they'd heard a bunch of stuff about the Mitt Romney guy... he sounds like a jerk, they'll probably just stick with the president. Ok, here's the debate.. Alright, this Mitt Romney guy... he seems pretty passionate, pretty animated... Obama, though.. what's wrong with him? He barely looks like he wants the job any more. Hmm.. Maybe this Romney guy isn't so bad. He seems like he could be President,  maybe Obama needs a break.

      I think this is where a big portion of this "squishy middle" is... they just aren't really into politics. And to add to that, the content of what the candidates probably makes almost no difference whatsoever. Sure, there are a few that are probably looking for specific answers to this or that or whatever but honestly, it probably comes down to 80-90% presentation. Obama didn't really look like he wanted it and Romney did. That's going to leave a pretty big mark.

    •  The more I think about it ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Voodoo king, George3, live1, Quantumlogic

      The more I'm wondering if people weren't just waiting for the first "Weakness" of the President to bail out. Mitt has accumulated one gaffe after another since January. They forget everything ... and only remember the one time when the President refuses to use bully/liar tactics to punish him.
      I'm really shocked at just how "Stupid" people have become.
      How about those women who were so strong for the President? What happened to all of them? Are they for Romney/Limbaugh/Bachman now? This is simply unbelievable.
      I'm shocked. Really shocked.

      Don't forget to register to vote here: http://netrootsradio.blogspot.com/p/register-to-vote.html

      by bepanda on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:44:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with E.J. Dionne (15+ / 0-)
    “When you give conservatives bad news in your polls, they want to kill you, when you give liberals bad news in your polls, they want to kill themselves.”
    I think the biggest walk-aways that I have from the last week are these:
    1. Panic doesn't help right the ship. When I see (admittedly bad, but) temporary bad news suddenly transform into a freak-out, I remember what party I belong to. A certain sort of Democratic voter has been conditioned by the last few decades of our national politics into totally turtling and dropping to the floor in an icy cold flopsweat of raw fear. I think what I am seeing is the deep pyschological scars of Florida 2000 are essentially going to last a generation. No amount of wins is going to erase that but the demographic shifts in this country making it harder for the GOP to benefit from it's traditional ratfuckery and thuggish politicking. There is a "Boston Red Sox fan prior to 2004" quality to a significant slice of the Democratic base. Looking for screwjob, Lucy pulling away the football. Never confident in good times but always freaking out at the worst times.

    2. Nothing silences the Movement Conservative Right claiming that the polls are a part of a greater liberal media conspiracy to fix the election like a polling momentum shift. Suddenly, the fix being in is not a big topic of conversation anymore. Huh. Imagine that. We are not drowning in Movement Conservative activists clamoring to cite the latest un-skewed polling data report because the fixers are now their friends. Or some such batshit nonsense like that.

    3. The Village loves a horserace, and huge swaths of the political press (who were always deeply unhappy with the idea that Obama was going to win a landslide clear weeks and weeks out from election day) were looking for something, anything, to bring this election back into a nail-biter narrative. Obama's lackluster and muted debate performance provided the opening to do just that. Nothing has been an easier sell than continuing the 'more bad news for Obama' meme since the debate. Clearly, it has replaced the "loser" meme that was the strongest political meme since the last night of the DNC.

    4. Andrew Sullivan Sucks. He is your friend, and Obama's, like that guy in the old joke about a bunch of guys running for their lives from a bear who suddenly concludes that he doesn't have to outrun the bear, just his slowest buddy. This is the same gutless coward who dealt with 9/11 by going stooge and writing about how real patriots were suddenly "Fifth Columnists" for questioning the Great Mass Pants Shitting post attack. Anyone still reading this gutless Village thrown-licker might as well just cut straight to the chase and guzzle antifreeze instead of gin.

    5. Low-information voters are still stupid lemmings who swing wildly in circles like over-greased weather vanes.

    6. Obama is a human being. He fucks up sometimes. But his campaign is vastly superior to the Romney campaign and just because he won a debate doesn't mean that he still isn't Mitt Romney. The GOP followed up the Romney debate win by not having a rally the next day, and immediately the GOP grabbed onto another conspiracy theory about the job numbers, because that is where they are. One thing that did not help the President is that the Village is so happy to have negative Obama news to fit a new meme that the short-term damage from the Great Jobs Report Conspiracy was not as bad as it might have been if the "Romney is a loser" meme was still paramount.

    7. There is an incredible amount of political media real estate open for an "Obama comeback" narrative to deal with the poll numbers reflecting that the fundamentals of the 2012 election still strongly favor an Obama re-election. The Village is never going to say that they were wrong to hype any Obama bad news they could find, and hype Romney post-debate, so the meme they will default to is that "Obama has fundamentally re-set the race" if and when the polls flat-line and go back in his favor. The Village is a predictable animal. If they are faced with a choice of having to admit that they are essentially pimping the best narrative to end up with the tightest horserace by virtue of their narrative turning out not to be so, or, saying "Obama is BACK, baby!" they are going with "Obama is BACK, baby!"

    8. Mitt Romney is still Mitt Romney. Paul Ryan is still Paul Ryan. The GOP is still the GOP. Obama returning to his previous campaign strategy of crucifying them all for what they actually say they believe in and want to do will still work. We can't forget that it was the American public who made the 'Big Bird' attack the most memorable thing besides Obama not having a good debate. This wasn't some lame desperate attack that the Obama camp pulled out of its asses on fire with fear. The public is not happy with it. The Village thinking it is silly, and that it is a petty pushback doesn't change that the public told Obama this was something to take a shot with.

    9. Biden can start to change the narrative by kicking Paul Ryan's ass because clearly Ryan is the Village's choice as the favorite going into the contest, and if Obama is even decently better in the next debate it will change the narrative that the first debate created.  

    10. While almost everybody was focused on the Romney debate win, and the Village giving Romney his victory lap for him, the Romney camp has been giving up on more and more territory that it has to win to win the 2012 election. If you think you are going to win Pennsylvania because the debate has changed the race, you don't continue to signal that you are giving up on winning the Keystone state by pulling dozens and dozens of additional campaign staffers and activists out of the state to send them off to Ohio. There is what they say, and there is what they do, and what they do says they are still hip deep in shit.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:38:23 PM PDT

  •  i'm gonna vote for the president again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, AuroraDawn, Supavash

    I don't like romney, despise ryan, and republicans and miss having real news and commentary and reporters instead of the mannequins draped in assembled cliche, stupidly mouthing copycat undercuts of a society which could slip away without their notice.

    Job Crater Republicans Make Our Lives Miserable. Drop Them.

    by renzo capetti on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:48:03 PM PDT

  •  "Unfortunately he may not have a chance..." (9+ / 0-)

    Uh, the VP debate is about 42 hours away. That, at the very least will change the news cycle for Friday, thank God.

    And maybe some of the MSNBC hosts other than Sharpton shouldn't have been acting like Eeyores every day after the debate (Ed was unwatchable Tuesday night), but should have come out swinging on Romney's lies. They're not helping: I kinda think Obama got the memo on the bad reviews, and I think everyone of the base got that memo too, at this point they're just sharing their funk. A funk I might add that is not being shared by thousands of Obama volunteers nationwide who have been showing up to work this week. They have a lot more to lose if Romney were to become President than hosts who would benefit from the tax cut he'd pass, yet they're the ones  with balls.  

    •  MSNBC is kind of pathetic. (11+ / 0-)

      Home team booing the quarterback after a bad series.

      I'm having trouble watching them after their performance on debate night.

      Repubs started up the car, hit the throttle and sent it over the cliff, and now they're complaining that the black guy hasn't fixed it fast enough.

      by Bush Bites on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 12:43:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been sticking with Al (8+ / 0-)

        He's the only one who's showing any brains in how to respond.
        He was the sole voice of sanity telling the truth that Mitt's performance was full of lies, and they left him out to dry.

        Who do they think needs or wants angst rubbed in their face every night? I wouldn't be surprised if their ratings fell off a cliff this week.

      •  Ed Schultz hasn't stopped (6+ / 0-)

        he was still flogging the president over the debate last night; I had to shut him off.  And frankly, Rachel's knowing smile as she talks (with limited insight it seems ) about the electoral map is not engendering confidence in me.   I have only been able to watch L O'Donnell and Rev Al  since they appear to be the only ones with good sense and perspective these days.  

        I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy.

        by Delilah on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:59:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mitt will not win (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quantumlogic, Quicklund

          I will be at the Democratic headquarters with friends tomorrow night to watch Joe Biden take on Mr. Ryan. I, along with many others will be hitting the phones the next few weeks or going to a neighboring state for the re-election of our Prez.  

          Although I wanted our Prez to knock Mitt out by calling out the lies he has told, I knew he just couldn't at this moment. Stop watching Ed, Rachel or MSNBC.  The only way to deal with an etch-a-scetch candidate, is to shake them up again and again until their blanker than blank.
          Mitt will not win this election if we stop the hand wringing and hit the phones or walk the pavement.

          Mitt is a lier and will do anything to win the election.  If one debate can turn this around, in less than a week, three more with an engaged Obama and a jolted Joe Biden will definitely make a difference.  The base is engaged and at least awake.  Complacency was our weakest link.  You can t say that now.  We are awake and the question is are we actually engaged?

        •  I am tired of MSNBC with (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, Delilah

          exception of Rev. Al and Lawrence.

          Rachel really turned me off with her snide remarks last night.  Hey Rachel, how about fucking fact checking?

          "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

          by noofsh on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 05:28:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well, if they... (6+ / 0-)

    can swing this much over one lousy debate, presumably, they could swing right back if we ace the next three debates. I may start worrying if Romney is still gaining momentum 2 weeks from now, but not this morning.

    Blackadder: Everything goes over your head, doesn't it, George? You should go to Jamaica and become a limbo dancer.

    by AuroraDawn on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 01:31:33 AM PDT

  •  Do you think the Big Bird ad (0+ / 0-)

    is playing to general audiences?

    It isn't, you know. They are microtargeting their advertising. It's running on comedy shows.

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