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Let's don't sound like some dopey pundit on cable TV reading the talking points you got in an email and pretend that Barack Obama did not get a bounce out of his convention.

He did. But not as much as the Barack Obama campaign might have wanted.

On August 27 - the day the GOP convention was supposed to have started, the RealClearPolitics.com average of national polls had Obama leading Mitt Romney 46.8 percent to 45.7 percent. That is a difference of 1.1 percentage points.

As of last evening, the five national polls that were current showed Obama with a net average advantage of 3.0 percentage points.

Obama got a bounce of 1.9 percentage points, but as more post-convention polling comes in, that is likely to rise.

Reuters reported over the weekend that neither convention lit many voters' fires. Only 29 percent gave the Democrats' convention a "good" rating; 27 percent thought as highly of the Republican event.

Over the past three Presidential elections the bounces have, according to CNN, been as follows


2008: Obama +2; McCain 0

2004: Bush + 2; Kerry 0

2000: Bush + 8; Gore +8 - Net = 0

So, Obama's bounce was about the same as he got four years ago; and what Bush got eight years ago.

Given all that, the concept of convention bounces - like conventions themselves - may have outlived their usefulness.

While you would rather be slightly ahead in the polls than slightly behind, the Mitt Romney campaign can take some solace in the fact that Obama is below 50 percent in every poll. He's just closer to 50 percent than Romney.

But, before you run screaming into the night, there are a couple of things to take into account.

The first is the scheduling of the two conventions.

The Ds held theirs in Charlotte the week after the Rs had held theirs in Tampa meaning it was going to be difficult for Romney to have gained any momentum before the festivities began in North Carolina.

Second, following the Romney convention we went through three days of the Labor Day weekend when normal human beings were not paying much attention to politics because they were busy getting their kids into back-to-school rhythm and/or swearing this would be the absolutely last season for the family grill that looks like it first saw service - and tough service - during the First World War.

And when I say "normal human beings" I specifically exclude anyone connected to any political campaign, anyone connected to a survey research firm, and anyone who has ever appeared on one of the cable news programs.

Third, it is unclear to me how much of the improvement in Obama's numbers are due to Obama; and how much is due to Bill Clinton.

A question that the Obama campaign must be wrestling with in Chicago is: At what point does Bill Clinton become a liability for Obama if it begins to look like he's propping the President up?

I'm not smart enough to know the answer to that question; but I am smart enough to know they'd better be asking it.

What's going on in the 12-or-so battleground states? In the four that have recent polls (state polling is not nearly as frequent as national polling) - Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Florida - Obama has slightly increased his leads, but only by an average of 1.1 percentage points.

The strategy of the campaign has not changed since May: Romney wants this to be a referendum on Obama's performance in office. Hence the "Are you better off …?" formulation.

Obama wants - needs - to show that Romney cannot be trusted to do what's best for middle-class Americans. That's why the ads about Romney's tax plan (bad for middle-class taxpayers) and Paul Ryan's Medicare proposals (bad for seniors).

Nothing has changed. Which ever side wins their argument will win the election.

Now, we can begin obsessing over the debates that start in Denver on October 3.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Reuters poll and to the Commission on Presidential Debates webpage with the complete schedule.

Also, an interesting Mullfoto from the Green Room at MSNBC on Friday morning.

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