WSJ/NBC poll: Obama 50, Romney 45

The sample: 42D/37R/16I, or D+5. That’s not bad for an outfit that’s had some truly dreadful samples so far this year, but it’s still a few points bluer than election day is likely to be. The poll was conducted from September 12 to 16, too, which means it’s missed the last few days of Obama’s disappearing bounce. No telling what’ll happen once the “47 percent” comments are priced in, but these numbers aren’t remotely as bad as you’d expect from all the media shrieking over Romney’s Libya comments last week. In fact, it’s O who’s taken a hit on foreign policy: He’s down 12 points, to just 41 percent, on that question among independents since last month’s poll.

So what’s keeping him afloat? The, er … economy:

According to the survey, 39 percent of registered voters say the country is on the right track, versus 55 percent who say it’s on the wrong track.

That right-track number is a 7-point increase from August, and it’s the highest percentage on this question since Sept. 2009.

Forty-two percent of voters also believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months, which is a 6-point jump from August, and a 15-point rise from July.

What’s more, 47 percent of registered voters approve of the president’s handling of the economy – up 3 points from last month. Obama’s overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent for the first time since March.

He’s now tied with Romney on the economy at 43. Note the trendline here too:

I have no idea how to explain that surge in optimism except to treat it as a gift to O from Bill Clinton, whose speech in defense of Dem-onomics is probably the single biggest thing driving Obama’s convention bounce. As we know from Gallup, though, the bounce is already fading, so unless we get a surprisingly rosy jobs report next month, expect this number to deflate by the time of the next (and final) WSJ/NBC poll. Exit quotation from the WSJ write-up: “At the same time, Mr. Romney leads the president by 3 percentage points among voters who rate themselves highly interested in the race, an advantage that could make a difference in who casts ballots on Election Day.”

Update: Almost forgot: A few readers e-mailed about this WaPo poll of Virginia today showing Obama up by eight(!) among likely voters — based on a sample of D+9. In 2008 on election day, it was only D+6; Obama ended up winning the state by six points. He’s ahead there right now, but most other recent polls have him up five points, not eight.