After a couple of heady days of polling, Mitt Romney's post-debate bounce appeared to be fading on Monday — then Pew dropped a bombshell: In its latest survey, Romney is leading President Obama among likely voters by 4 points, 49 percent to 45 percent. "The new data has conservatives celebrating and liberals in a panic," says Nate Cohn at The New Republic, especially since Pew's September poll had Obama ahead by 8 points. After all, "Pew Research has irreproachable credentials, both in terms of past results and methodology," and this is the first reputable poll to put Romney ahead by any significant amount in a long time. Did one debate really rocket Romney into the lead?

No. Obama is still winning: "Look, the new Pew poll caught the race in the middle of a Romney bounce and a wave of Romney enthusiasm," but that moment's already over, says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. Gallup has Obama back up by 5 points and even GOP-leaning Rasmussen shows the president's lead growing again. The fact that "the press and blogosphere and Twittersphere are ignoring those polls and obsessing over Pew" just means that "the press is, for the moment, on Romney's side."
"I'm less impressed by the new Pew poll than..."

The race is now Romney's to lose: "The Pew poll is devastating, just devastating," for Obama, says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. It's not just the top-line number: In one terrible night he blew an 18-point lead among women, fell behind Romney on favorable ratings, and "instantly plummeted into near-oblivion" on every issue except Medicare, honesty, and foreign policy. And worse, "he has, at a critical moment, deeply depressed his base." I'm not sure a sitting president can recover from such a wipe-out this late in the game.
"Did Obama just throw the entire election away?"

Pew's poll is good — not great — news for the GOP: This Pew poll "may well be the single best polling result that Mr. Romney has seen all year," and it can't be dismissed, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. "But it's one thing to give a poll a lot of weight, and another to become so enthralled with it that you dismiss all other evidence," and the evidence points to a slight lead for Obama — which fits the fundamentals of the race. "If you can trust yourself to take the polls in stride, then I would encourage you to do so." If you want to live and die by individual polls, buckle up: It's 28 days until the election.
"Oct. 8: A great poll for Romney, in perspective"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.