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Debate May Have Helped Obama

I don’t usually try and prognosticate in which direction the tracking polls are liable to move, but it looks to me like the debate may have been a pretty significant help for Barack Obama.

The Zogby-Reuters poll is already out. From reading Zogby’s write-up, it sounds like Obama must have had about a 9 point lead in Thursday’s interviewing and, oh, a 5-6 point lead in Wednesday’s interviewing. This compared with a 2-point lead over the Sunday-Tuesday window, before the debate occurred. (Zogby’s party ID weightings are screwy, but we’ll discuss that at another time; the poll should be fine for inferring trendlines).

Research 2000 had Obama winning Wednesday’s daily sample by 12 points, as compared with 9 on Monday and 8 on Tuesday.

Or take a look at the most recent Rasmussen polling. They put five polls out tonight: Obama by 3 in Florida, Obama by 1 in North Carolina, Obama by 16 in Michigan, Obama by 8 in New Jersey, and McCain by 7 in Indiana. From among that set of polling, the Indiana result is poor for Obama, and the New Jersey result is a little below expectations, but the North Carolina and Florida numbers are pretty good and the Michigan number is very good. Obama’s two worst polls from that group — Indiana and New Jersey — were conducted on Tuesday, principally before the debate. The other three, which were stronger for him, were conducted on Wednesday, after the debate.

So, I don’t know. Take this with a grain of salt. But there are some hints that Obama may be on track to post some of his strongest numbers yet as we head into the weekend.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.