Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Wow -- Gallup's tracking poll today shows Mitt Romney jumping to a 51%-45% lead over Barack Obama among likely voters. As impressively, he leads among registered voters, too, 48-46%. If a Republican has a lead among RV's, it's lights out.
The saving grace for Obama is that this is all pre-debate data, and his solid performance might have stopped some of the bleeding.
So the big question -- does this poll represent the high watermark for Romney, or is it something more stable and enduring?
The good news for Romney is that he seems to have the luxury of tripping a bit and still not falling. Obama's not going to reverse a 6% lead on what was slightly better than a draw. It took a three day convention for Obama to take his own 6% lead, and Bill Clinton wasn't anywhere near that debate stage last night.
Going forward, there's also the question of how economic headlines affect the last few weeks. Today saw some great housing numbers, and corporate earnings last quarter have been slightly better than the miserable expectations -- causing the stock market to pop a bit.
But it's hard to see how four weeks of a positive, economic headline here and there (which are, anyway, often accompanied by signs of anemic growth) can erase four years of national dour. Today's political environment will probably be November 6th's, and that puts the pressure on the incumbent who's got to turn 45% into 50% in less than a month.
And remember, history absolutely does show that late voters break for the challenger at the presidential level. Most recently, they broke for Kerry in 2004, and even broke for Dole by 12% in 1996 against a very popular incumbent.