The widely watched RealClearPolitics average of presidential campaign polling for the first time this year has Gov. Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama.
The lead is small, only 0.7 points, but even a slight edge has added significance given the margin is a polling average that includes thousands of voters.
Romney was ahead of Obama for a few days in 2011, but that polling was done before the Republican primaries had even gotten underway and was probably more a referendum on Obama than a true comparison of the candidates.
The last four polls in the the current RCP average, each including surveying done wholly or substantially after the Oct. 3 debate, all show either a tie or a Romney lead. The average of the four most recent polls – those done by Rasmussen, Pew Research, Gallup and IBD/TIPP – puts Romney ahead by two points.
The closest Romney had been to Obama this year was in early September, when his post-convention bounce briefly put him in a tie with Obama.
The RCP state averaging also now gives Obama just a 0.8 point advantage in Ohio – perhaps the most critical swing state – where Obama just last week had been thought to be opening up a solid lead.