More polls: Romney now within three points in Michigan, two in Pennsylvania

In case there was any lingering shred of doubt that Romney helped himself considerably last week, this ought to finish it off. Michigan:

Obama’s 10 percentage point lead (47%-37%) in a poll conducted last month by EPIC-MRA of Lansing dropped to 3 points (48% to 45%), according to the poll of 600 likely voters conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. The gap between Romney and Obama was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points…

“Romney has come back like gangbusters,” said EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn. “Whether or not it’s long-lasting, only time will tell, but probably the remaining debates will be key.”

Conducted in the three days following the Wednesday debate, the poll showed more than five times as many Michiganders interviewed named Romney, not Obama, as the debate’s winner. Romney’s numbers improved most dramatically among independent and undecided voters.

Worth noting: Per the article, Romney’s closing the gap on O in Michigan even while other prominent Dems are expanding their leads. Debbie Stabenow went from being 11 points up on Pete Hoekstra last month to 20 points up now. That’s in line with Obama’s 2008 margin in Michigan of 16.5 points. Fast forward four years and she’s keeping pace with that advantage while he’s … now statistically tied with his Republican challenger. Must be a lot of left-leaning independents thinking of splitting their ballot to produce a result like that.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania [PDF]:

Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney in the Keystone State by 2 points (47%-45%), with 3% voting for Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson…

Perhaps the biggest movement in SP&R’s latest poll is the increase in Mitt Romney’s favorable image in Pennsylvania. In the current poll Romney now holds a 48% to 42% favorable to unfavorable rating (or +6 positive) – making this the first time in not only our polling but virtually any other publicly-released PA poll showing the GOP challenger with a largely positive image. For instance, prior to the current poll Romney’s average favorable image in numerous statewide polls conducted by our firm from June through September was 39%, while his average unfavorable rating was 43%. So the current poll represents a 9-point jump in his positive image to the point where Romney now enjoys an even better positive image than the incumbent President, who now has a 50% favorable to 47% unfavorable rating (or only +3 positive). Plus, 76% of voters said they watched the first televised debate, with a net 2% saying they switched their vote from Obama to Romney based on what they saw. This switch, plus the increase in favorable ratings for the GOP nominee is clear evidence the debates have helped solidify the Keystone State as a tossup election in November and one well within Romney’s reach.

Caveat to this one: Susquehanna also had the the race within two points in Pennsylvania in two separate polls conducted in September. No other pollster has had the state closer than six points since September 1. On the other hand, this poll’s partisan split seems credible: It’s D+6 when voters are asked how they’re registered, which jibes with the 2008 state exit poll showing an advantage of D+7. And the surge in Romney’s favorables reflects what Pew found in its blockbuster earlier this afternoon. Go figure that after a summer of ads depicting him as a corporate pirate turned tax cheat and the most radically right-wing nominee since Goldwater, the public was pleasantly surprised to find that he’s a genial technocrat who knows his stuff better than Obama does. The Democrats set the bar low and Romney cleared it by 20 feet. That’s why his favorables have inflated.

As of early last month, Team Mitt and his conservative allies had spent next to nothing in Michigan and Pennsylvania, but Romney was talking tough about PA as recently as a week before the debate. Keep an eye out for news stories about American Crossroads, AFP, etc, starting to buy ads there; if that happens, then we’ll know that the private polling is showing the same momentum. In the meantime, enjoy the latest “celebrity” ad on behalf of the Empty Chair. I recognize exactly one person here, but who knows: Maybe there are votes to be had in the 18-29 demographic by having Z-listers making lame sight gags.