That’s four straight days of gains for the Lamb and fully 10 days since McCain picked up so much as a point on him. Obama’s bounce after the convention left him up eight; we may well see that duplicated by Friday, when the first debate — focusing on the economy, do note [Update: Maybe not.] — rolls around. Current pessimism meter reading: Stable at four, down from six last week, indicating elevated levels of despair and worries of a landslide but buoyed by the fact that both Rasmussen and Hotline have The One up by a single thin point (his first lead in Rasmussen since September 10).

Whom should we blame? The St. Petersburg Times offers a scapegoat.

Five weeks ago, the St. Petersburg Times convened a group of Tampa Bay voters who were undecided about the presidential election. Their strong distrust of Barack Obama suggested it was a group ripe for John McCain to win over.

Not anymore. The group has swung dramatically, if unenthusiastically, toward Democrat Obama. Most of them this week cited the same reason: Sarah Palin…

“I’m truly offended by Palin,” said Republican Philinia Lehr, 37, of Largo, a full-time mother with a nursing degree who voted for George Bush in 2004. Like Palin, she has five children and she doesn’t buy that the Alaska governor can adequately balance her family and the vice presidency.

You’re somebody’s mom and what are you going to do, say, ‘Excuse me, country, hold on?’ … She’s preaching that she’s this mom of the year and taking that poor little baby all over everywhere. And, you know, what she’s doing to her 17-year-old daughter is just appalling.” Lehr said she’s bothered by the way Palin’s pregnant daughter has been brought into the national spotlight.

Of the 11 undecided voters participating in the discussion one recent evening at the Times — four Republicans, five Democrats, and two registered to no party — only two Republican men applauded the selection of Palin.

Nobody had finalized a choice, but seven of the panelists said that McCain’s running mate selection had made them more likely to vote for Obama, and in several cases much more likely.

Exit question: How much should this very important Florida focus group bother us? Exit answer: Not much.