Two days after former Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama went toe-to-toe for 90 minutes during an extremely heated debate at Hofstra University, it is becoming apparent that Obama may not have done enough to halt Romney's lead in the polls. At best, Obama may have stopped his own support from bleeding off. That does not mean however, that he stopped Romney's support from increasing, and the latest presidential polls reflect that.
By all accounts, Obama did what his closest advisers and the mainstream media said he needed to do. He was awake and alert. He went on the attack, and tried his best to match an extremely aggressive Romney at every available opportunity. Two days after their first debate, it became apparent that Romney was beginning to see some positives. Now two days after the second debate, we are seeing a similar pattern unfold.
Today, Gallup released a poll that shows Romney leading Obama, 52% to 45% among likely voters.
Rasmussen shows Romney increasing his lead by one point, leading President Obama 49% to 47%.
Real Clear Politics shows Romney maintaining a lead of 0.7% above Obama, 47.6% to 46.9%. During the last day, Romney's support grew while Obama's fell. If this continues the next few days and this becomes a lasting trend, the president will find himself in more trouble than he does already.
RCP also has Romney slightly ahead now in the Electoral College. The former Massachusetts governor now has a slight lead over President Obama, 206 Electoral votes to 201. The day of the first debate, Obama was ahead of Romney by 88 Electoral College votes.
A Wisconsin poll now shows Romney leading Obama, 49% to 48%. Romney was behind Obama by double-digits only two weeks ago in that state. Romney is also hot on Obama's heels in Ohio, with plenty of time to overtake him.
So what happened?
Two different focus groups, one on Fox News and the other on MSNBC, both showed a swing for Romney. The MSNBC focus group focused on undecided voters, while the Fox group showed voters that supported Obama in 2008 but were now undecided. After the debate, both groups showed increased levels of support for Romney.
Obama was aggressive, but he provided no vision for the future. He attacked Romney's own vision without providing any specifics for what he would do in a second term. There is only so many times you can tout mediocre results before people get sick of it. For two debates, Romney has focused 100% of his energy on ripping apart Obama's economic record, especially when it comes to high unemployment, entitlement costs, and everything else. It's working.
Of course, this could also be indicative of something else. One week ago, Vice President Joe Biden squared off against Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) in the only VP debate on this election. A week later, it is now obvious that Biden may have inadvertently done damage to himself and his ticket. A new Marquette Poll shows that while Biden was once up +8 in favorability, now he at -3, an 11-point swing. It's now obvious that Ryan didn't have to do anything to win that debate last week. Biden lost it all by himself. It is a painful lesson that the GOP learned four years ago. The vice presidential debate usually does little to help, but can do a lot to hurt if things don't go as planned.
A new Pew poll released on the 16th showed the same thing. By an 11-point margin, voters that tuned into the debate came away preferring Ryan to Biden.The only rule a vice presidential nominee has to adhere to during a campaign is to not hurt the ticket, and Biden didn't do that last week.
So is Obama in trouble? Yes. Could Romney actually pull off the electoral landslide that the near-infallable University of Colorado electoral prediction model is claiming he will? Yes.
Another relative expert in elections, Karl Rove, who a few months ago was spouting off nothing but doom-and-gloom for the Romney campaign, now has a new take, stating eloquently how no one in the history of U.S. presidential elections has lost with the numbers that Romney has at this point at the race.
There is only one debate left, and everything will be on the line. Obama could find himself under enormous pressure to climb out of the hole he now finds himself in. With more states each week going over to the "toss-up" category, and history showing that undecided voters almost always break for the challenger at the last minute, November 7th may not quite be the party day that First Lady Michelle Obama may have in mind.
Between now and then, Obama will have to do something to rally his increasingly dispirited base. However, as Romney said during Tuesday's debate, "I think you know better."