Prior to Wednesday’s first presidential debate, Obama held a consistent 2-3 point lead in Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll. Today’s tracking poll, however, shows that the race has flipped, with Romney now holding a 2 point lead over Obama, 49-47. This represents a significant 4 point swing in just two days.
It is important to note, though, that only 2/3rds of the interviews in the tracking poll occurred after the debate, so the full extent of Romney’s debate bounce isn’t clear yet. Tomorrow’s tracking poll will be the first with all interviews post debate. The next few days will show if Romney’s bounce in the polls is temporary or represents a real change in the race’s direction.
The number that should most worry Obama isn’t the tracking poll, however. The biggest worry for him is the viewership numbers for the debate. Around 70 million Americans tuned into the debate, a big increase over previous debates. The viewership even surpassed numbers from 2008 debates, when Obama was a political, and cultural, phenomenon.
What those 70 million viewers saw was total dominance by Romney. They saw a weak and listless Obama who seemed simply unequal to the task of being President. In contrast, Romney was strong, articulate and even passionate.
Obama will no doubt have a better performance in the next debate. Unfortunately for him, though, the next debate is two weeks away. That is a long time for the image of a strong and confident Romney to linger in voters’ minds.