Obama Rising as Second Debate Looms

The constant barrage of polls can obscure as much as it illuminates. Is the Public Policy Polling poll showing Mitt Romney up 4 right, or should you believe the Washington Post poll giving President Barack Obama a 3-point edge? Is Gallup’s “likely voter” screen too restrictive, or is it just right? More than anything, just what the heck is going on?

Overall, the presidential race is very tight, but a close look at the numbers shows some momentum for Obama — and that women could well be the key to deciding the election.

Romney’s Initial Gains Fading

Mitt Romney did well in the first debate, gaining about 3 percent in the polls. That was enough to push him into a narrow lead in the RealClearPolitics.com poll average, one that peaked at 1.5 percent.

That lead has faded, however, with Romney today holding a 0.3 percent edge. Obama’s gain of about a point from his nadir is consistent with gains shown by Nate Silver of the New York Times, who shows Obama having gained back about 0.7 percent in the polls. Silver’s model shows Obama with about a 1 percent lead over Romney, but both Silver and RealClearPolitics show a very tight race, one which could swing either way.

Certainly, that’s a comedown for Obama from his position before the first debate, but it’s not disastrous. Romney’s gains have peaked, and are receding; that means that this race is at worst too close to call at this point. At best, it suggests that Obama has some room to gain support back, especially with a strong showing in the two remaining debates.

Romney Gains Among Women

Romney has benefited most from gains among women. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows Obama tied among likely female voters in swing states. This mirrors gains seen in the Pew poll from last week.

There’s no clear reason why Romney would be gaining support among women, but one may be the dog that didn’t bark. In the first debate, Romney was asked not one question on women’s rights, birth control, or abortion rights.  Romney has equivocated on the Lily Ledbetter Act, supports defunding Planned Parenthood, and has backed  extreme anti-choice “personhood” laws. All of those positions are anathema to gaining female support.

Fortunately for Romney, in the first debate he didn’t have to address any of these issues. It would be surprising, however, if he managed to get through the next two debates unscathed. Certainly, Romney may try to obscure the positions he’s taken, just as he did on economics in the first debate — but it seems unlikely that Obama will let him get away with it again.

Last Two Debates Could Be Pivotal

Obama may be slightly ahead, or slightly behind, but either way, this is a very close race, and much will depend on what happens between now and the election.

Obama was pilloried for being too deferential to Romney in the previous debate, and he’s paid a heavy price for it. He’s gone from the clear favorite to win in November to basically a toss-up.

The good news for Obama is that starting tonight, he has the opportunity to change that. In 1984, Ronald Reagan slipped nearly 10 points in the polls after his first debate with Walter Mondale. A strong second debate reversed his slide, and he went on to a historic landslide in November.

Given the closeness of the election, the next two debates could be decisive. If Romney can win handily again, he could regain votes Obama has won back over the past ten days. If Obama wins big, he could erase Romney’s gains from the first debate, and then some.

The presidential race was very close for almost six months, but in the last few weeks before election day, it has become very fluid. Individual polls can cause partisans to breathe easy, or to reach for the smelling salts — but in the end, the aggregate of polls shows a race that is going to come down to the wire.

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Image Credit: Donkey Hotey


Robert H.
Robert Hamm5 years ago

HAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAAH Paul Exposing how Romney flip flops and outright lies is NOT misinformation. I didn't even recognize the Romney that was at the 1st debate. He reversed almost every one of his points. And then a few days later one of his handlers would say Oh don't worry thats not part of Romney's real platform. He will tell ANY lie to get in the white house but the party platform will NOT let him lead that way or reverse his positions.

The plan her originally presented to us was the party platform. BUT, Romney recognized that platform was making him fall behind. So he simply sold another product. I CAREFULLY listened to his original platform. I didn't listen to pundits Just him. HE changed a Huge segment of his platform in that first debate. YOUR refusal to admit that doesn't make me stupid. The Party platform hasn't changed. They will pretty much lead from that original platform. And Mitt will do what he is told.

David Harrison
David Harrison5 years ago

What I find baffling from over in Britain is how can there such a large percentage of the population who, before the first debate, agreed with what Obama was doing and saying and were going to vote for him and then, following the debate, say to themselves "Oh! Obama didn't do too well there I think I agree with Romney now".

Sometimes the quote "Democracy is too important to be left to the people" really rings true (anyone enlighten me who originated the phrase?).

Hillary K.
Hillary K5 years ago

How the HELL can Romney make gains with women? Is it all those binders on women he has?? He is SO anti-woman he couldn't even respect Candy Crowley as moderator.

Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

Wishful thinking for Dems!!! Romney's lead will only grow after last night's debate. While Obama at least decided to show up and defend himself for a change... he clung to the same old lies and rhetoric, platitudes and talking points he has promoted since the campaign began for him months ago.

He will NEVER regain the "messiah" image as the MSM heralded in 2008. He is seen NOW as being exactly what he railed against in 2008 when he said of McCain, that "if you can't run on issues or policy, then demonize your opponent." (paraphrased)

He is petty, he lies, he has YET to present ANY details of a plan for recovery except his budget that got ZERO votes in Congress, yet he expects Romney to have a step by step plan.

People aren't as gullible as the Libs believe them to be and are seeing through the facade of Obama's rhetoric. Romney has shattered the bubble he was put into by Obama's campaign, abetted by the MSM. People are NOW getting a look at the real Romney and don't see anything like he has been portrayed.

If the Liberal blogs would quit spreading so much disinformation about Romney, this election wouldn't even be close. In 3 weeks the only poll that matters will be held and poor Michelle will be denied here desire to "party hard" on Nov 8th. Instead she will be packing for her return to Chicago.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm5 years ago

You have failed since you came to this site Steve R but we dong try to throw you out You are comedic relief.

HE hasn't failed CONGRESS has failed and thats why THEIR rating is in single digits.

Jane H.
Jane H5 years ago

The Dems beat the Repugs on all the issues, I think. They care more for real people rather than only the weathy, they're better for the stock market, the environment, women, gays, foreign relations, peace rather than war, contrception and family planning, health care. They just plain give a damn, a real rather than fake damn.

Steve R.
Steve R5 years ago

The choice is easy....

Obama has had 4 years to prove himself and failed!

Romney had 4 years in Massachusetts to prove himself and succeeded!

Romney had the Olympics to prove himself and succeeded.

Romney ran many private sector businesses and succeeded!

The choice is between success and failure. Which do you want for the next 4 years?

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Jenny S.
Jenny Sejansky5 years ago

Storek S- It is now after the fact. Obama most certainly had control of that debate last night. Anyone who says otherwise is thinking wishfully! I expect the tide to turn again soon!

Debra Griffin
Missy G5 years ago