With the first full day of post-debate polling in hand, Mitt Romney increased his lead over Barack Obama in the Gallup seven-day nationwide poll. Romney now leads 52 – 45 among likely voters. That’s one more point for Romney after the debate, while Obama remains stuck at the same level. Neither the second presidential debate, nor the vice-presidential debate, appears to have done anything but increase Romney’s momentum.
However, the Gallup poll did register a one-point uptick in job approval for Obama. This puts him at 50 percent approval, which raises a quandary. As political strategist Karl Rove pointed out the other day, no candidate who gets past 50 percent in the overall Gallup rating in October has lost the election, and Romney crossed that threshold earlier this week.
However, as Gallup noted, 50 percent approval is usually the minimum “safe” level for an incumbent at this point. One of those two nuggets of conventional wisdom is due for retirement. It could prove to be either one, although it seems to me that squeaking up to 50 percent approval while the challenger opens up a 7-point lead sounds more like a semi-fond farewell to the incumbent.
Rasmussen Reports, which is often criticized by liberals as biased toward Republicans, also shows Romney in the lead… but by a much narrower 49-47, which is within the margin of error. The Republican advantage in voter enthusiasm increased in this poll, and Romney is running a huge nine-point lead among independents. Rasmussen uses a three-day rolling average, as opposed to the seven days included in the Gallup survey.
There’s also some interesting polling news out of Michigan, where Romney has closed to within the margin of error in a new Denno Research poll. Obama still leads there, 44.2 to 40.5, but the big chunk of undecided voters (13 percent) is not a good sign for the incumbent this close to the election. Michigan is supposed to be a safe Democrat state – in fact, Mlive.com relays comments from Romney advisers that they didn’t want to “blow smoke” about flipping it. But maybe it’s time to blow at least a little smoke, especially since the Denno poll shows enthusiasm among Romney voters growing faster in Michigan, and he’s got another 9-point lead among independents.