A new Washington Post/ABC poll suggests that, in at least one poll, the first presidential debate didn't irrevocably alter favorability ratings.
Soon after last week's debate, Mitt Romney got a bump in his favorability rating, while Barack Obama saw a dip.
But that shift has since disappeared, and this ABC/Washington Post survey show things returning to normal. The president's favorability rating is perched at 55%-44%, while Romney's sits at 47%/51%.
And that, once again, places Romney with inauspicious company:
Four previous candidates have been underwater in popularity at roughly this point in available data back to 1980: losing Democratic candidates John Kerry in late September 2004, Walter Mondale in October 1984 and Jimmy Carter in September 1980; and Republican George H.W. Bush in October 1992.
There are three caveats.
a. For as important as favorability is, both Obama's job approval rating and the candidates' ratings on various issues have been much better indicators for voter preference.
For example, even though he leads on favorability by 15%, Obama certainly doesn't lead, overall, by that number.
b. Some conservatives will take issue with the poll's +7% Democratic sample, which suggests different turnout than most expect.
c. This is one poll. Confirmation is needed, BUT... this is a sign that familiar dynamics might be working themselves back into the race.