Scott Rasmussen notes that following the president's sub par performance in the first debate, “the reality is that a very close race shifted ever so slightly from narrowly favoring President Obama to narrowly favoring Mitt Romney. Either way, it remains too close to call.”
Overall, Romney has had a one- or two-point lead on six of the past nine days. Obama had the advantage just once, and the candidates were tied twice. Those numbers reflect the state of the race after the first presidential debate. Before that, Obama had been ahead or tied for 16 consecutive days.
From a longer term perspective, Romney and Obama have been within three points of each other for 89 of the past 100 days. Only about two percent (2%) of voters changed their mind following the debate. But, in a close race, even a small change can have a big impact.
Business Insider notes that the president’s approval rating in the Gallup poll “held at 48 percent for the second consecutive day,” which, is “below the “safe” threshold for an incumbent’s re-election.” The president’s shares on Intrade have also plummeted in the last two weeks. Jennifer Rubin points out what has changed after Romney’s first debate performance:
For one thing the debate exposed what many Republicans suspected, namely that some of Obama’s support was shallow, rooted in habit or from failure to consider Romney might be a viable alternative. Even in the heady days after the Democratic National Convention Obama did not reach more than 50 percent in the RCP averages or even in any week of Gallup tracking polls.
Recall that virtually the entire Obama strategy was aimed to discredit and delegitimize Romney as a candidate. The avalanche of negative ads in the summer, however, failed (barely) to do so. With Romney’s extraordinary debate performance, it now becomes nearly impossible to vilify him. Unfortunately for Obama he’s got no Plan B. He never devised an impressive second-term agenda. He has either unpopular (Obamacare) or unhelpful (raise taxes) or small beans (hire 100,000 teachers) proposals. Romney has therefore been able to deploy his “we can’t afford four more years” argument quite effectively.
And finally, as many of us suspected, foreign policy has become a front-burner issue. The attack on the Benghazi Consulate has now resonated with mainstream media and has become a story about competence and credibility. This may not have contributed to Romney’s rise, but it will assist him in holding off Obama.
Meanwhile, President Obama has been in Williamsburg, VA cramming for Tuesday’s debate. His advisers are promising he’ll deliver a more aggressive and energetic performance this time around. One thing that won’t change, however, is the record he has to run on.