The first wave of post-debate polls are still in the field, so we're still waiting to determine whether Romney received a sizable bounce. But a baseline is necessary to judge the size of Romney’s bounce, so let's take the polling doldrums as an opportunity to consider the state of the race heading into the debates. Why an average of post-DNC polls? First, the pre-debate polls were consistent with the post-DNC average. If the race tightened over the last few days, it only tightened from Obama's post-"47 percent" peak to something more typical of the rest of September.
Heading into the first debate, Obama holds a modest lead with approximately 49 percent of the vote. In the last forty-eight hours, 14 national polls show Obama leading by 3.6 points, 49.1 to 45.5 for Romney. Is that tightening? Perhaps only 3 of the 13 national polls suggest clear movement in Romney’s direction, including two released today: NBC/WSJ, which showed Obama’s lead among likely voters falling from 5 to 3 points, and a National Journal survey showed a tied race.