It was the most talked about poll of the day, and perhaps the moment conservatives have been waiting for since Governor Romney stepped off the debate stage last Wednesday night. A new survey by Pew Research shows Governor Romney with a four point lead nationally – outside the margin of error and a 12-point swing from a month ago. Equally striking is the shift among women, who supported President Obama 56%-38% in September, but were split at 47%-47% in the latest poll.
But how much should be read into this single poll? Is it a sign of an inflection point, or an outlier? Author of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog Nate Silver urges caution, writing, “it’s one thing to give a poll a lot of weight, and another to become so enthralled with it that you dismiss all other evidence.” But that hasn’t stymied broad, earth-shifting conclusions. The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan called the poll “devastating, just devastating” and claimed, “it’s hard to see how a president and his party recover.” RedState’s Erick Erickson also seemed to assume Romney had arrived, declaring ”liberals are now in full meltdown.” But it was just a few weeks ago that Erickson tried to undercut polls that favored President Obama, writing: ”I also believe the polls are reflecting a bigger Democratic strength than is really there.”
Perhaps the best advice comes from frequent NOWist and editor-at-large for Time Magazine Mark Halperin, who puts all this poll volatility into perspective: “the reality is that right around the time whatever debate bounce Mitt Romney got from his performance settles down, the two combatants will have their next face off on Long Island, shaking up the race again.” Whether this is a blip or a bounce, it may only last until the next debate.