Inside Romney’s Post-Debate Bounce

Kyle Leighton


Just how much did Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney improve his standing in the race? Well, now two major polls say he has the lead.

Romney’s strong debate performance was confirmed by both national and swing state polls released after the event – some putting his margin of victory over President Obama at nearly 50 points.

Overall, Romney moved to a 4-point lead among likely voters in a Pew poll, who previously showing Obama with an 8-point lead in mid-September. Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed Romney up by 2 this week after Obama was up 4 before the debate. And a Politico/GWU poll showed a one point tightening for Romney, along with the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls showing Romney catching up although they also showed his surge starting to wane by the end of the weekend.

The bottom line in the numbers was that Romney has made great strides on the personal side– his favorability is up and voters are taking a second look at his candidacy. But while it’s been nothing but good news for him in national polls, swing state data might give the Romney team some pause.

It’s been no secret that President Obama’s campaign hopes to make a firewall out of newly-minted swing state Virginia, which he carried last time. PPP quickly did a poll of the state after the debate and found the president’s lead had receded from 5 points to 3, even as Romney improved his personal rating in the state greatly. They also showed Romney catching up in Wisconsin, although Obama was still at 49 percent and led by 2. And a Selzer poll of Colorado showed a 47/43 advantage for Obama in that state, despite the fact over 80 percent of voters watched the debate and 68 percent said Romney was the winner.

So the polling is telling us two things right now – Romney won the first debate, and he’s seeing a national surge off of it. Voters like him more and are taking him more seriously as a viable alternative. But the real battle, as it always has been, is in the swing states, and we’ll see with more data if the bounce applies there as well.