After a week that has made it appear as if the presidential election is slipping away from him, Mitt Romney got a bit of good news this morning when Rasmussen released its latest daily tracking poll showing him with a narrow 47-46 percent lead over President Obama. It’s the first time in a week that Romney has had any kind of a lead and only a couple of days ago had fallen a few points behind in this survey.
Given the avalanche of bad results the Republican has gotten in the past few days, the Rasmussen numbers provide a dose of badly needed relief for Romney. Polls released in the last week have shown President Obama with leads as large as 7 points (Gallup), 6 points (CNN), 5 points (Fox News) and 3 points (Reuters). All reflected a clear post-Democratic convention bounce for the president that was in no way diminished by the dismal jobs report released on Friday. The expectation in some quarters is that this trend will continue as the president reaps the benefit of leading the nation during a time of crisis in the aftermath of the attacks on American embassies in the Middle East. But the Rasmussen survey provides at least one ray of hope for the GOP in that it shows that the post-Convention bubble may have burst. Indeed, it may be the harbinger of results from other sources that may show the race tightening rather than moving even further in Obama’s direction.
Democrats will be quick to point out that Rasmussen’s results have tended to favor the Republican throughout the race and that its focus on likely rather than registered voters may underestimate Democratic turnout in November. We won’t know until then whether Rasmussen’s turnout model is more accurate than other pollsters who are assuming that the president will duplicate his 2008 effort, when an outpouring of minority and young voters propelled him to a decisive victory.
However, Rasmussen’s numbers, which show, as has been the case throughout the year, more enthusiasm on the right than on the left, may indicate that contrary to the prevailing narrative of the last week, the campaign is essentially back to where it was two weeks ago in a virtual stalemate. That is the best indication that the Charlotte bounce is over since it appeared as if Democrats had closed the enthusiasm gap after the convention.
Nevertheless, Republicans should not be surprised if the all out media assault on their candidate in the last 24 hours after his criticism of administration apologies to Islamists will produce another surge for the president. Many in the country may agree with the GOP candidate that the initial apology to rioters that was produced by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt was disgraceful. Others may expect that the bungling of U.S. security in Libya and the administration’s supine posture in Egypt will become problems rather than strengths. But once the chattering classes settle on a theme to the disadvantage of conservatives, whether it is Romney’s foreign trip or the supposed brilliance of speakers at the Democratic convention, it has a way of becoming accepted conventional wisdom.
That said, though the polls have shown in the last week just how decisive an advantage a compliant media can be for the president, the latest results demonstrate that the race remains tight with Romney still very much in the hunt.