Despite the past few weeks, President Obama's supporters have several reasons to remain optimistic. Yes, the race has tightened, and it is nowhere the campaign said it would always be: tight. The small Obama lead in the national polls is gone, and his margins in the target states have slipped or evaporated. But the electoral map still favors the president. And, if the race comes down to turnout, I will bet on the Obama operation over Romney's. The Obama campaign has been investing in, building and innovating a state-of-the art voter contact and Election Day operation for almost eight years, and it will be worth a point or two on Election Day.
Another reason for optimism is the economy. Last month's improvement in employment might be a trend at just the right time for the president; initial claims for unemployment are down, indicating unemployment could fall again on the eve of the election. And, today, it was announced that consumer sentiment, a bellwether of consumer spending, has hit a five-year high.
Moreover, there are signs that the president is now dialed in. He seems to have broken out of the torpor that plagued his performance in the first debate. If you watch this campaign video, you can see how powerful the president's message is when he he delivers it with clarity and passion.
So with less than four weeks before the election, there are signs that the president has his game face on, and I think we can expect a much stronger performance in the second debate. Obama will never get back to where he was a few weeks ago in the polls; he was at a false high. But my guess is he stops the decline and leaves the second debate with renewed political strength and a revived sense of mission.