Chris Graham: The presidential race is over (again!)

As recently as a week ago, the presidential race was over. Barack Obama had only a 3.1-point lead in the RealClearPolitics poll average, but the writing was on the wall for Mitt Romney. The 47 percent video, his stumble on comments on the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, rumors of discord at the top levels of his campaign, all came together to present a clear picture.

Then came the Denver debate, the first of three in the 2012 election cycle, and it’s just as clear a week later, that the race is over, only now it’s Mitt Romney in the driver’s seat.

So he only has a eight-tenths of a point lead in the RCP average. And that that lead is largely a result of Gallup switching from reporting its numbers based on registered voters (where Obama still leads by three points) to its likely-voter model that has Romney up two points.

(The change in Gallup’s reporting alone takes the race from being tied to giving Romney the 0.8-point lead.)

Whatever. It’s eight-tenths of a point in favor of Romney in the poll averages with three weeks and change ’til Election Day. Time for the Romney camp to measure the drapes.

Consider, of course, that on this same date eight years ago, John Kerry had narrowed what had been a 6.4-point deficit in September to George W. Bush to 2.2 points.

(Obama’s biggest lead in the RCP average in the last month was 4.0 points, most recently on Oct. 1.)

The race has moved 4.8 points in Romney’s direction as a result of the first debate. Kerry gained 4.2 points after his strong performance in the first debate of the ’04 cycle.

That race ended up being close enough that early word from exit polls on Election Day in 2004 had Kerry winning and Kerry staffers famously, yes, measuring the drapes, in a manner of speaking, for their move into the White House.

That Kerry eventually fell short isn’t to say that current trends in favor of Romney won’t continue. It does need to be said that there’s still a lot of time, and two more presidential debates, that can lead to the needle moving one way or the other.

This race is no more over today than it was a week ago. No matter what the folks in the liberal media and conservative media have to say.

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