President Obama’s extremely poor performance during the debate last week gave Mitt Romney a real opportunity to make up some ground. According to Gallup, Romney’s position in their national tracking poll improved significantly after the debate. From Gallup:

Comparison of Registered Voters' Presidential Preferences, Before and After First Presidential Debate, 2012

The first presidential debate went decidedly in Romney’s favor. The debate appears to have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the debate compared with the three days prior. Still, the impact was not so strong that it changed the race to the point where Romney emerged as the leader among registered voters. Rather, at least in the first three days of Gallup tracking after the debate, the race is tied.

But even that small movement is significant, given the competitiveness of the race throughout this presidential campaign year and the fact that debates rarely transform presidential election races.

In addition to improving his standing in the Gallup national poll, there are signs that Romney strong performance in the debate helped him close the gap with Obama in individual swing states. PPP found that Romney show a significantly gains in Wisconsin and a modest improvement Virginia.

The first presidential debate was to be one of the first big unforced errors for the Obama campaign this cycle.