* The new NBC/WSJ poll finds Obama leading Mitt Romney by five, 50-45, among likely voters, a finding driven by increased economic optimism, though the wrong track numbers are still high.
* Another key finding from the NBC/WSJ poll:
While none of these numbers is ideal for a president facing re-election, Obama is now tied with Romney (43 percent to 43 percent) on which candidate would be better on the economy.
By my count, this is the sixth recent national poll to find the two at parity on the economy, suggesting Obama may be fighting Romney to a draw in an area where Romney led for many months — the issue, of course, that was supposed to decide this election. Four of those polls are here; the fifth is here. This again raises the question: Is Romney’s basic theory of the race flawed?
* If the two candidates are indeed tied on the economy, Obama can perhaps fight the election out on other, more favorable turf, and the NBC poll also finds this:
On other issues, Obama leads Romney on dealing with taxes (45 percent to 39 percent) and on dealing with Medicare (47 percent to 37 percent). And the president is ahead of his Republican challenger on three character traits – being a good commander in chief (45 percent to 38 percent), dealing with issues of concern to women (54 percent to 26 percent), and looking out for the middle class (53 percent to 34 percent).
Obama’s lead on taxes is particularly interesting; we’ll see what impact Romney's disdain for the freeloading 47 percent has on that debate.
* Romney’s derogatory comments about the freeloading 47 percent are playing badly for him in local papers in swing states, and that’s key, because Obama aides believe local press is the way to win indys.
* A strong Post editorial on what makes Romney’s demeaning of the freeloading 47 percent so unmoored from reality and decency.
* Reuters poll: Four in 10 voters felt less favorably towards Romney after his comments about the Embassy attacks, versus only 26 percent who felt that way about Obama’s supposed apology.
* However, the NBC poll’s internals find that approval of Obama on foreign policy has fallen by five, and disapproval has jumped by six, suggesting the events abroad are taking a toll on the president, too.
* ABC News reports that the Romney camp will make Obama’s 14-year-old “redistribution” comments a major messaging target in coming days. Can the spirit of Joe the Plumber save a second GOP candidacy?
* Jed Lewison documents the many layers of idiocy behind the “redistribution” attack. ICYMI: My take here.
* A new Post poll finds Obama up by eight in Virginia, also among likely voters, though the threat of defense cuts could loom large.
* Important point from David Frum:
From the greatest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, the rights and perquisites of wealth have emerged undiminished — and the central issue in this election is whether those rights and perquisites shall be enhanced still more, or whether they should be allowed to slip back to the level that prevailed during the dot.com boom. Yet even so, the rich and the old are scared witless!...
It’s all a scam, but it’s a spectacularly effective scam. Mitt Romney tried to make use of the scam, and now instead has fallen victim to it himself.
* Relatedly, a good read from Kevin Drum asking why the rich are in such a fury, given that the past few decades in this country have been better for them than any other period throughout human history.
* The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is running a new ad thanking the Chicago teachers for standing firm, underscoring the attention the strike is drawing from progressives nationally.
* And Jay Rosen flags a TV exchange that answers the key question: What should the media do when one side decides there is literally no set of boundaries it needs to follow when it comes to truthfulness?