Barack Obama

Rasmussen: Calm Down, It's Still a Close Race, Nothing Dramatic Has Happened

Rasmussen puts the wet blanket on a week of poll vaulting

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nothing off the charts

Rasmussen's latest daily presidential tracking poll has Barack Obama at 48 percent and Mitt Romney at 47 percent, the first poll to show the president with any kind of lead since his poor debate performance last week. That performance was followed by a slew of unfavorable polls for the president, the most devastating of which was a Pew Research poll that Andrew Sullivan dissected to explain just how devastating the president's debate performance was. In his analysis, Sullivan also noted he dismisses Rasmussen polls off hand. Perhaps he shouldn't. From Rasmussen's analysis of its latest presidential daily tracking poll:

We have reached the point in the campaign where media reports of some polls suggest wild, short-term swings in voter preferences. That doesn't happen in the real world. A more realistic assessment shows that the race has remained stable and very close for months. Since last week's debate, the numbers have shifted somewhat in Romney's direction, but even that change has been fairly modest. Still, in a close race, a modest change can have a major impact. Over the past 100 days of tracking, Romney and Obama have been within two points of each other 72 times. Additionally, on 89 of those 100 days, the candidates have been within three points of each other.

Romney's lead in the RealClearPolitics average is down to 1.3 with the new Rasmussen poll but it's still the best polling position he's been in in a tight race so far. Though campaign polling has been described as "volatile," the RealClearPolitics list of polling data tells a different story. Romney hasn't lead by more than 2 points in any poll since the beginning of August until this week, and hasn't had consecutive leads in polls since May. The president, meanwhile, has polled up to 9 points ahead in polls as recent as two weeks ago. You'd have to go to unskewedpolls.com to find any polls going that far in Romney's favor. The race has certainly remained close and even tightened, but a close race is hardly a volatile one.