There’s nothing like a comeback story.
The Obama campaign, working to spin away Republican Mitt Romney’s perceived success in the first presidential debate last night, suggests that reporters have been waiting for a turnaround in fortunes.
“I think some of this is baked into the cake,” David Plouffe, a top adviser to Obama and manager of his first presidential campaign, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route from Denver to Wisconsin today. “People are itching to write a Romney comeback story.”
If there is a “bounce” for Romney in the first debate, it arrives at a long-awaited juncture for the Republican nominee.
The president’s public job approval had climbed notably in the days leading up to the debate: 54 percent approval in the Gallup Poll’s daily tracking survey running Oct. 1-3 — into the day of the first debate. It spiked four points. Disapproval was down to 42 percent.
That was the highest his approval had run in Gallup’s daily tracks since early November 2009, toward the end of his first year in office. It reached 53 percent in late May of 2011, and had slipped as low 38 percent in mid-October.
The latest poll run by National Public Radio — a bipartisan production of pollsters Republican Whit Ayres and Democrat Stan Greenberg — showed Obama with a seven-percentage-point advantage over Romney nationally. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found a three-point edge for the president.
Obama’s advantage among registered voters has run as high as six percentage points in Gallup’s daily tracks during the past week. It was four points at the end of a seven-day run of polling yesterday — 49 Obama, 45 Romney.
So the number-watchers will be paying close attention to Plouffe’s words heading into a weekend in which Romney will be making a concerted push for the biggest swing-state of all, Florida. And in which the Obama campaign may have to work to reinforce an advantage that was taking hold in Ohio, the second-biggest swing state and bellwether that has voted the way the nation has in 12 elections. The president will campaign in Ohio tomorrow, with Romney heading to Florida.
“We thought (Romney) gave a very theatrical and aggressive performance,” Plouffe said today. “Is that going to change minds in places like Ohio, Nevada and Virginia, we’ll have to see. But that’s the measure. Is he going to take the lead in Ohio? If he doesn’t, he’s not going to be president.”
The two candidates won’t debate again until Oct. 16.
Plouffe is the author of The Audacity to Win.
Margaret Andersen Brower contributed to this report.