The latest Pew poll is rather remarkable. Barack Obama led by eight percent among likely voters in this very survey last month. Romney now leads by four percent, a 12-point shift since the debate:
In turn, Romney has drawn even with Obama in the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September. Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month.
The shift with women voters is unbelievable. Last month, Obama had an 18-point lead among women in the Pew poll. Now Obama and Romney are tied, at 47 percent. The war-on-women-themed convention, the Sandra Fluke speeches, the HHS mandate that antagonized Catholics — all the gains from those may have been erased by just one debate:
In the presidential horserace, Romney has made sizable gains over the past month among women voters, white non-Hispanics and those younger than 50. Currently, women are evenly divided (47% Obama, 47% Romney). Last month, Obama led Romney by 18 points (56% to 38%) among women likely voters.
Another interesting stat from Pew: Romney now leads Obama, 47 percent to 40 percent, on the question of which candidate has new ideas. In other words, the Obama campaign’s attempt to portray Romney as Bush redux hasn’t stuck, at least not after his debate performance.
But as Jon Cohen notes at The Fix, the shift is based a lot on changes in voter identification in the polling samples — i.e. there is more enthusiasm from Republicans, and more people are identifying with the party, so the sample is weighted more toward the GOP than it was last month. That’s still good news for the Romney campaign, but not as good as if there had been major movement among independent voters — particularly since voter identification stats in these polls have been very much in flux throughout the campaign. There are also other events that could suddenly change the momentum of the race: a successful drone strike on the terrorists behind the Benghazi attack, a poor performance by Paul Ryan in the next debate, etc. So while this is a stunning comeback for the Romney campaign, maintaining it until the election may not be easy.