What happened
A new Reuters/Zogby poll shows that John McCain has taken a five-point lead over Barack Obama in the presidential race. The poll, conducted Thursday through Saturday, put McCain ahead 46 percent to 41 percent. McCain trailed by seven points in the same poll last month. (Chicago Sun-Times)

What the commentators said
“John McCain used the summer well,” said Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe. He raised enough doubt about his Democratic rival's ability to lead to gain ground despite discontent with his fellow Republican, President Bush. If Obama wants to reclaim the momentum, he has to do a better job at selling himself, and reminding voters what they don’t like about McCain and Bush.

McCain made his recent gains by doing just that—pointing out what sets him apart from Obama, said John Hinderaker in the Power Line blog. “He obviously performed well in connection with Russia's invasion of Georgia, while Obama was on vacation.” And more Americans have evidently “figured out that McCain wants to drill for oil and Obama doesn't.”

Obama's amateurish and weak response to Russia's aggression called attention to his lack of experience, said Barry Casselman in The Washington Times. Despite Bush fatigue and other factors in the Democrats' favor, voters aren't crazy about the idea of taking a chance on "an amateur president" in "these very dangerous and uncertain times."

It was McCain's negative ads that really turned things around, said Frank James in the Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp blog. McCain‘s campaign managed to turn “what had appeared to be Obama's positives—his popularity here and abroad—to a negative: i.e., a celebrity without the substance to be president.”

It’s time to acknowledge that “the ‘celeb’ hook may be in deep,” said Greg Sargent in TalkingPointsMemo’s Election Central blog. But don’t take this poll as the last word. It was conducted “while Obama was on vacation and McCain's commander-in-chief playacting on the Russia-Georgia crisis was at its most visible and cartoonish,” and most polls still show a dead heat.

Democrats had better hope that Zogby is the one calling it wrong, said David Weigel in Reason’s Hit & Run blog. “If McCain leads on the economy," as the Zogby poll suggests, "there's not really any fjord Obama can paddle through to get to the White House.”