There's no doubt that Mitt Romney got a nice, juicy bounce from the first presidential debate. There's no doubt that President Obama's performance was so bad that even his friends call it a world-class fuckup.
Is it time to seriously start believing that if we don't all get our shit together, we could be looking at this?
Well, yes and no.
Yes in the sense that momentum is a huge deal in a presidential race -- the more it appears Obama might lose, the more money pours into the Romney camp and the more Romney partisans get active and the more the reluctant right that never really trusted him starts to perk up. The Obama folks hope the opposite happens -- that fear will motivate a lot of progressives who've been pissed at the president to get back into the game.
But let's remember -- the winner in November will not be the one who finished first in the Gallup poll. This is not a national election. It's a state-by-state election, for better or for worse, and the polling we ought to be looking at is in the swing states. And so far -- even in the days right after the debae, when Romney was seeing the most dramatic improvement -- the swing states are looking okay. Not great, but not a disaster.:
In what were the worst polling days for the president all cycle, the GOP's hack pollster Rasmussen found Nevada tied 47-47, Obama up in Iowa 49-47, Obama up in Colorado 49-48, and Obama up in Ohio 50-49. He also found Romney up 49-47 in Florida and 49-48 in Virginia. PPP found Obama winning Virginia 50-47 and Wisconsin 49-47. Ann Selzer, one of the best pollsters in the biz, found Obama leading in Colorado 47-43.
Yes, the polls in Texas show even more support for Romney, and Obama's support in California has softened a little, but that's irrelevant -- the only way the solid-color states are shifting columns is if something really cataclysmic happens.
Fox News thinks Romney has already won -- but check out the popular vote v. the electoral vote rundown here. Romney's got a nearly 50-50 chance of winning the popular vote -- but his odds of winning the election are stil below 30 percent.
Just for fun, check out the second map here, which shows a plausible scenario for a deah heat, a tie that would be broken by the House of Representatives. Plausible, but pretty unlikely.
So don't file your application for Canadian residency yet; Obama needs to fight back a little more and realize that this isn't a time for nonpartisanship, but he's still the odds-on favorite to win.