Oct 13 2012
Sometimes people get too focused on the gap between two candidates and forget to pay attention to the actual levels. For example, an incumbent who is polling around 45-46% is more than likely to lose the election since undecided voters late in the race tend to go to the challenger. This is especially true for Presidents, who by the nature of their job have the highest visibility of any candidate in the country. Presidents are well known (or well worn) entities after 4 years in office.
So while there is a small gap between Romney and Obama in the RCP poll of polls, the levels indicate (today) that Obama is very likely to lose on election day. The data is pretty brutal (click to enlarge):
This is a snapshot of the RCP poll of polls this morning, Oct 13, 2012. Amazingly the incumbent President is polling at only 46% across the average of 7 polls. That means that 46% is not an outlier, but the real trend when you see it so consistently like this. All these polls confirm Obama is very likely to lose the election. If this goes to 45% I would say it is a given. If Romney elevates to 49%, it is a given.
This may explain why state polls are shifting to Romney (they tend to lag the national numbers since they are not taken as often).
As long as Obama is at 46% or below across this many polls there is almost nothing that can save him from being a one term wonder like Jimmy Carter.