Just hours before Barack Obama and Mitt Romney meet in Long Island, N.Y, for the second of their presidential debates, Gallup has ENCOURAGING NEWS for the Republican nominee:
Half of likely voters now prefer Mitt Romney for president and 46% back President Barack Obama in Gallup interviewing through Monday.
While Romney’s four-percentage-point advantage is not statistically significant, he has consistently edged ahead of Obama each of the past several days in Gallup’s seven-day rolling averages conducted entirely after the Oct. 3 presidential debate. Prior to that debate — regarded as a decisive Romney win by political experts and Americans who watched it — Romney averaged less than a one-point lead over Obama among likely voters.
The latest result, from Oct. 9-15, is based on 2,723 likely voters drawn from more than 3,100 registered voters.
The effect of the Denver debate on voter preferences is also seen in the trend among registered voters. Prior to the debate, in late September/early October, Obama generally led Romney by five or six points among registered voters. Since the debate, the margin has been three points or less.
Steve Lombardo of Huffpost Pollster has THIS to say:
Any serious observer of the presidential election has to be scratching his/her head. In mid-September Obama was on track for reelection because Romney, at that point, had been deemed unacceptable by a vast segment of the electorate. Now, in mid-October, the President is dazed, staggered by a near knockout in the first debate and a subsequent Romney surge that seems to have the Governor on a winning trajectory. The problem is that neither scenario accounts for unplanned events. No one anticipated what happened in the first debate (a huge Romney performance and a terrible one from the president), but it did and it has changed things considerably. This election is roughly back to where it was in May of this year before Team Obama decimated Romney with negative ads. With 21 days to go, this race is essentially tied.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the debate two weeks ago shifted the course of this election dramatically. As we noted, the race began to show a natural tightening — as you would expect — about 30 days ago, but this accelerated after the October 3rd debate. That night, nearly 70 million viewers watched both candidates debate. The following week — and its avalanche of negative reviews — was devastating for the president. Even the positive jobs report did little to stop the bleeding. Below is our election trend line; it speaks for itself. There has been a significant change to the trend following the first presidential debate, and the VP debate did nothing to change its trajectory (it’s entirely possible that tonight’s debate, of course, could alter the current trend).