Obama’s Modest But Momentous Bounce

Obama’s modest post-convention bounce may have altered the race, argue Douglas E. Schoen and Jessica Tarlov.

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President Obama’s speech may have fallen flat next to Bill Clinton’s and Michelle Obama’s. And his five-point bounce after the convention is, by historical standards, relatively small. Nevertheless, it now appears that things are going his way.

With two months to go, the electorate seems to be moderately pro-Obama. Monday’s Rasmussen tracking numbers give the President a 50-45 lead. The Gallup figures tell a similar story, with Obama leading Romney 49-44.

One of the most significant indicators of a sea change for Obama is that his job approval has finally hit the 50-percent mark. According to Gallup’s three-day rolling average, Obama is at 50 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval. This stands in stark contrast to an ABC/Washington Post poll from before the conventions began, which showed Obama with 47 percent approval as compared to 50 percent disapproval.

Obama is also making headway in key swing states. A PPP survey from Sunday shows Obama with a five-point lead in Ohio. This is his largest lead since early May. He is also significantly ahead in Michigan, commanding a seven-point lead in the latest PPP poll. The overall electoral map shows Romney facing an increasingly uphill battle.

Obama’s campaign also managed to outraise Romney for the first time since April. Obama’s team brought in $114 million in August as compared to $111 million for Romney’s camp—a small margin but notable nonetheless.

For Romney, the path to victory is looking increasingly tough. As things stand, it seems that Romney will only be able to assert himself in this race through an exceptional performance in the October debates or via deteriorating economic news. That said, we have consistently received negative economic news, which Romney has remained unable to capitalize on. He still lacks a clear economic plan and vision for the country. The latest numbers indicate that it is high time that he develops both—and, crucially, shares them with the American people.

This morning, Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse wrote a memo to supporters. “Don’t get too worked up about the latest polling,” he told them. Based on the latest figures, this does not seem like particularly good advice.