Perhaps demanding from the numbers more than they are able to give, I posted each day over the weekend what the polls seemed to be showing about the post-debate environment. Today’s numbers provide some encouraging signs for President Obama.
As I noted on Saturday, the polls released immediately after Wednesday night’s debate left little doubt that Mitt Romney got a substantial jump in support, almost certainly as a result of the debate and the news cycles following it. PPP said that Obama’s numbers were actually worse on Friday than they were on Thursday — not surprising since the round of extremely negative news coverage for Obama probably hurt as much as the debate itself. But PPP also noted that Saturday’s numbers started to look more like the pre-debate data. The Reuters-Ipsos poll out Saturday also suggested that Romney’s move had peaked or perhaps started to fall back.
Today we have more data suggesting Obama’s support snapped back, perhaps pretty hard, over the weekend. Rasmussen, which had shown Romney +2 on Saturday and Sunday, moved back to a tie. Gallup meanwhile went back to Obama +5.
The Gallup trend is worth breaking down. Obama +4 (10/3), Obama +5 (10/4), Obama +3 (10/5), Obama +3 (10/6), Obama +5 (10/7). Now, Gallup also says that in the three days after the debate Obama and Romney were tied and that the three days preceding Obama was up by 5. I try to know my math limits (which, believe me, are quite limiting) so I’m not going to try to disaggregate those numbers. But some pretty dramatic Obama drop and rebound must have taken place from Thursday to Sunday to make today’s number work.
This is one of those moments when it’s worth remembering that this is why tracking polls don’t release the daily breakdowns, as much as we obsessives are dying to see them. The individual days have small samples and can have whacky results. That said, today’s data looks like Romney made a big move in the polls on Thursday and Friday but then deflated pretty quickly over the weekend.
All told some reassuring news for Obama supporters. But we’ll see a lot more data over the next couple days. And there will be at least one poll today which shows quite a better picture for Romney.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.