To be sure, the fact that the last Pew poll showed women leaning toward President Obama over Governor Romney by 18% -- a lead which was obviously impossible -- shows that the poll is to be taken with several hundred grains of salt.
Nevertheless, the across the board enormous gains for Romney on issues as well as in personal favorability in the new Pew poll taken October 4-7 -- with Romney topping Obama in favorability for the first time ever in this poll (or any poll that I've ever seen) -- is remarkable. Every important measure in this poll showed an enormous move toward Rommey.
It shows the fundamental weakness of Barack Obama and how the public was just waiting for a reasonable indication that Mitt Romney is a plausible, acceptable alternative. Romney's goal now must be to reinforce that view.
The lesson from this understanding of the poll results (if you agree with my interpretation) is that Romney was right during the debate to remain fundamentally positive about himself more than negative about the president, because voters already understand the negatives about the president. He needs to appear presidential, smart, wise, well-informed, and capable. And he needs to maintain an appearance (which I believe to be a reality) of caring about the economic well-being of all Americans (without making any obvious effort to appear likeable for its own sake) at least all those Americans who want to work (and are capable of working) in order to make a better life for themselves and their families.
I continue to believe that Barack Obama will over-react to last week's debate debacle by coming out extremely aggressive against Romney -- further hurting Obama's personal likeability, which was his most enduring and electable trait given his failure in almost every other aspect of his presidency.
Read it and weep, David Axelrod:
The VP debate on Thursday will give a hint as to how Obama will behave: If Obama's team is planning for the president to try to rip Romney's throat out, they will have given Joe Biden the same marching orders. I expect Paul Ryan to make Joe Biden look like the mental midget that he is, but then when you're up against such a gaffe machine it is all but impossible to lower expectations. So if Ryan does not wipe the floor with Biden, the media will call it a loss for Ryan -- and the public might too. Biden is an experienced debater even if being far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. Paul Ryan would make a huge mistake to underestimate Plugs Biden; fortunately, I'm confident that no such mistake will be made.