The least interesting part of the latest Gallup poll is the fact that it shows Mitt Romney with a 2-point lead over President Obama among likely voters, 49 percent to 47 percent. Given the extent to which Gallup has shown a close race through most of the year, this was expected. What’s more interesting is the evidence, buried in the article, that Romney’s post-debate bounce was short-lived and is subsiding. Here’s the full range of post-debate polls among registered voters:
This is in line with my earlier analysis: Romney received a sizable post-debate bounce, which leveled off on Saturday and declined on Sunday. Together with polls from Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen, there’s a chunk of evidence to suggest that this race will stabilize by the end of the week, and Obama will regain his slight advantage over the Republican nominee. Indeed, the fact that Obama’s approval rating went up—to 53 percent—is a sign he is still well-positioned to win reelection, even as the race tightens.
Pace those of us who leaned on political science, this debate mattered. But, conservative triumphalism notwithstanding, it didn’t fundamentally reshape the contours of the race. If anything, it acted as a corrective for Romney’s lackluster performance at the Republican National Convention—with last week’s debate, Romney reintroduced himself to the American public, and made an excellent second impression.