The latest Wall Street Journal-NBC poll shows the presidential race, nationally, has tightened some in recent weeks, and offers a snapshot of a polarized electorate on every possible line: race, sex and class. White males overwhelmingly favor Mitt Romney, while President Obama leads with white women. Romney leads with college-educated voters, and Obama has a commanding lead among Hispanics.

Both candidates can find positive signs in the research. Romney is not only still standing but has gained a bit, at least nationally, after a horrible month. Obama can find solace in his growing lead among Hispanics, who are key to several swing states and a growing sense among Americans that the economy is improving.

As we enter the first debate, the race, in my opinion, has tilted toward Obama, but slightly and certainly not irrevocably. Romney's resilience suggests the debates could give him a fresh start.