First we all watched the first debate and stood gaping as Obama's lead vanished in the aftermath. Then we learned that Obama's poll slide had in fact started about a week prior.
Next, we watched Obama win the second debate and held our breath for a bounce in the polls. Now, Jonathan Bernstein avers casually that the race is "slightly trending towards Obama, perhaps beginning after the second debate or perhaps a bit before that."
A bit before...a new theory presents itself unbidden! Whichever candidate is starting to rise in the polls outperforms in the debate.
The candidates personally are as much in the grip of campaign "fundamentals" as political scientists tell us the race itself is. The workings of their minds and bodies are pulled by electoral tides as surely as we are all subject to gravity. Or poll--arity.
Okay, maybe not. Sounds compelling, though, doesn't? I mean compolling.