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Presidential trend lines, showing Obama bumps after convention and second and third debates, with a Romney bump after the first debate
The final presidential debate was this past Monday, Oct. 22, and President Barack Obama built on his Oct. 16 second-debate success with another dominant performance. With polling now including post-debate numbers (for at least part of their samples), it was a good time to see how the polls were responding.

Remember, only polling Oct. 23 and later includes post-third debate samples, suggesting—as the graph above shows—that Obama's numbers began recovering after his dominant second debate.

Note that I cherry picked the "before" dates to find the most pessimistic Obama numbers from each pollster after the first debate, since all of them had different sample dates and ranges and whatnot. I only included pollsters with at least one day of post-third debate results. I'll update this chart later today when the next batch of polls weigh in.

Aside from the adorable folks at Rasmussen (nice try, guys!), it's clear that there's been real movement toward Obama—two to five points is significant given how much the race had tightened. Still, whatever lead Mitt Romney might've had at the national level never translated to the battleground states, thus he never got close to an Electoral College lead. Obama's big summer advantage gave him enough of a cushion to ride out his first debate debacle.

So Romney needed to be aggressive in Monday's debate to regain his momentum, yet looked instead like an intern getting schooled on foreign policy by the adult in the room. Again, the chart above shows that Obama was already regaining lost ground after the second debate, so Romney was in no position to play it safe and attempt his own version of the disastrous "prevent defense." It didn't work for Obama in the first debate, and it clearly hasn't worked for Romney this week.

Now this uptick is national. Obama lost ground in the battleground states, but never as much as he did at the national level. One could assume that the reverse would happen now—Obama's numbers will recover by a smaller margin in battleground states over-saturated by TV ads, mailers, volunteer phone calls and whatnot.

But Obama was winning before, so any uptick in his numbers, no matter how small, is significant—it means Mitt Romney is further away from the gains he needs to truly make this a toss-up election. And he's further away from that today than he was a week ago.

Help close the deal and sign up to help get Democratic voters to the polls in swing states with Workers' Voice, the largest independent Democratic voter turnout operation in the country. You can participate no matter where you live.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 12:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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