Polling data is beginning to come in, and it appears President Obama received a small bounce from the Democratic National Convention. The president’s approval rating is up to 52% in the latest Gallup poll, after hovering in the mid 40s for most of the year. The rating marks Obama’s highest since May of 2011, the month Osama Bin Laden was killed. Gallup’s polling also shows that the president has opened up a 3 point lead over Mitt Romney, up from a single point earlier in the week.
The president’s approval rating was marching upwards all week, as a strong lineup of speakers defended his record at the Democratic National Convention. Tuesday and Wednesday saw powerful speeches from First Lady Michelle Obama, and former President Bill Clinton. Obama’s speech caught the nation’s attention as well, setting a Twitter record for most tweets per minute during a political event at over 52,000.
The strong polling numbers got their first test Friday morning, as disappointing jobs numbers were released by the Labor Department. Around 96,000 jobs were created in August, below economists expectations. Those numbers came despite strong data from ADP, which showed over 200,000 jobs being created in the month. Despite the weak report, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1%, mostly due to many people dropping out of the workforce.
The drop in the unemployment rate may help the president, despite the weakness of the jobs numbers overall. If the unemployment rate falls below 8% before the election, the president’s position will be far more formidable. He can now boast 30 straight months of job creation following the recession. The unemployment rate falling below 8% would be a huge psychological milestone to add to that tally.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not receive as generous a bounce from his convention. In fact, he lost a bit of ground after the RNC. This was likely due to the fact that Republican enthusiasm is more about the party’s dislike for Obama than it is for their passion for Mitt Romney. The GOP nominee was also hammered for not mentioning Afghanistan in his speech, the first time a Republican nominee did not mention a war during their acceptance speech in decades.
President Obama’s lead will be further tested in the coming days and weeks. The Republicans have amassed a mountain of money, as have their super PAC allies. The airwaves are about to be flooded with an unprecedented number of ads. The GOP will attempt to chip away at the president’s small lead in the 26 days leading up to the first debate in early October.
The race is still extremely close. President Obama has the advantage heading out of the conventions, but not by much. The campaign will now move to the airways until the three presidential debates, which will be the last chance the candidates get to make their case on the national stage. The debates will be crucial to establishing a front runner in the final days of the campaign. Until then, the race will likely remain a dead heat.