***NOTE: We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. Monday's edition is below. You can sign up here to receive The Slatest PM in your inbox daily before it is published online.***
A TALE OF TWO POLLS: In the wake of Mitt Romney's historic debate performance last week, the GOP challenger has leapfrogged President Obama and now leads the incumbent among likely voters with less than a month to go until the election. Unless, of course, he hasn't, and his post-debate bounce has since evaporated. Those were the two very different narratives suggested by a pair of polls out Monday.
GOOD NEWS, MITT: The Pew Research Poll released the results of its latest polling this afternoon—the first taken entirely after last Wednesday's debate—that showed Romney and Obama knotted at 46 apiece among registered voters, and the Republican out in front 49 percent to 45 among likely voters. That's quite a change from last month's survey, when Obama led 51-42 among registered voters and 51-43 among likely voters.
GOOD NEWS, BARACK: Gallup, meanwhile, offered a different snapshot of the state of the race for the White House. The polling outfit's latest seven-day rolling average—which included polling conducted through Sunday—shows the president out in front by 5 points, 50-45, among registered voters. That figure was particularly noteworthy because Obama had seen a pre-debate lead of 4 points shrink to 3 points by Saturday, before jumping back up to 5 points once Sunday's results were factored in.
NATIONAL AVERAGE: Obama 47.9, Romney 47.4, according to Real Clear Politics's latest count, running from Sept. 26 through today.
REGARDLESS of which polling adventure you choose, both include this plot point: An overwhelming debate victory for Romney in the eyes of the American public. Gallup reported that 72 percent of the debate watchers it surveyed gave the win to the GOP challenger with only 20 percent seeing the president as the winner. That was the biggest margin of victory in a presidential debate ever recorded by the polling outfit. The story was much the same for Pew, which found registered voters gave the win to Romney by a 66-20 margin.
SPEAKING OF WHICH: Now even Obama is making fun of his own lackluster debate performance. "Everybody here [are] incredible professionals ... they just perform flawlessly night after night," the president said on the Nokia Theater stage where Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder and others performed this weekend. "Uh, I can't always say the same." Video here.
EARLY VOTING UPDATE: The Associated Press: "Mitt Romney's campaign is working hard to chip away at President Barack Obama's advantage among early voters, and there are signs the effort is paying off in North Carolina and Florida, two competitive states that the Republican nominee can ill afford to lose. Obama is doing better in Iowa, another battleground state important to both candidates."
HAPPY MONDAY and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow the entire @slatest team and @JoshVoorhees on Twitter, or fill your afternoon host's inbox with links, comments and anything else on your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HANDING OUT NOBELS: The prize in physiology or medicine went to British scientist John Gurdon and Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka this morning for experiments separated by nearly half a century that, in the words of the the selection committee, "revolutionaized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop." The Associated Press with the details:
—"In 1962, Gurdon wowed the world of biology by cloning a frog via a clever technique. He transplanted the genetic material from an intestinal cell of one frog into the fertilized egg cell from another. The egg developed into a tadpole, proving that all of the genetic instructions needed to turn an embryo into an adult exist even in so-called adult cells of the body — the specialized cells that make up skin, muscle, nerves and other tissues."
—"In 2006 and 2007, Yamanaka extended that insight by turning back time on individual cells from both mice and humans. By sprinkling four genes on ordinary skin cells, Yamanaka discovered a virtual fountain of youth for cells: Any type of cell, he found, could be reverted to a young, embryonic state. These “induced” embryonic cells behave much like the ethically contentious stem cells gleaned from human embryos. They can be grown into many other types of tissues but without having to destroy any embryos."
UP TOMORROW: Nobel Prize in physics. You can check out Slate's predictions for who will win that one, along with the rest of the week's awards, here.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Mitt Romney delivered his latest attack on President Obama's foreign policy on Monday and told an audience of Virginia Military Institute cadets that the president has failed to show the resolve needed to stabilize the Mideast and help protect American interests in the region and at home. Romney's critiques were mostly a repackaging of what he's said before but perhaps more noteworthy than what Romney said, was how he said it. The Washington Post from the scene:
"Romney spoke in confident and crisp tones, perhaps reflecting the intensive preparation aides said he had engaged in for the speech. Gone was the hurried demeanor he had displayed at a rally just the night before in Florida, where he rushed through his remarks as rain threatened from a gray sky. The former CEO, in his comfort zone when focused on the economy, has stumbled during his occasional forays into foreign policy. ... But with the president now potentially vulnerable on issues such as Libya and U.S.-Israeli relations, the Romney campaign senses an opportunity to reshape an issue long seen as an Obama strength."
FROM BAD TO WORSE ... TO WORST: Reuters: "Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday the 'worst-case scenarios' were now playing out in Syria and Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself, as its army fired back for a sixth day after a shell from Syria flew over the border. Gul said the violence in Turkey's southern neighbor, where a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad has evolved into a civil war that threatens to draw in regional powers, could not go on indefinitely and Assad's fall was inevitable."
CHECKING THE REST OF THE TRAPS—
NYT: "The House Intelligence Committee recommended on Monday that American companies should be blocked from carrying out mergers and acquisitions involving two Chinese telecommunications firms, saying their equipment could be used for spying in the United States. The recommendations, the result of a yearlong investigation, also said the United States government should not use equipment from the companies, the giant Huawei Technologies and ZTE Inc., and that American companies should find alternative suppliers as well."
WSJ: "An estimated 13,000 patients may have been exposed to the tainted spinal steroid injections which have sickened more than 100 people with fungal meningitis and killed eight, federal officials said Monday, as clinics and surgery centers continued to reach out to those who could be affected."
WaPo: "Iran is ratcheting up pressure on the U.N. agency responsible for overseeing the country’s nuclear program, accusing its inspectors of engaging in spying and sabotage and threatening to restrict U.N. access to Iranian nuclear facilities."
SLATE QUICK HITS—
Brow Beat: Jack and Rose Were Doomed
We'll see you back here tomorrow. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe here, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.