IT’S THE poll avalanche. Not my favorite thing, but it’s all the news while we wait for Biden versus Ryan tonight. And despite the flop sweat from Democrats, with infotainment hosts like Joe Scarborough pronouncing Obama “the underdog,” the President retains the advantage at this point.

The positive economic news appears to have buffered the president in Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado from the substantial improvement in Mr. Romney’s national poll numbers over the past week. The three battleground polls suggest that challenges remain for Mr. Romney in the next 26 days even as his supporters express new confidence about their candidate. – Voters Give Romney Better Grades for Leadership, Polls in 3 States Find

The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll confirms remaining challenges for Mitt Romney

But the Ohio poll also included an 11-point advantage for self-described Democrats — 40 percent to 29 percent for Republicans. Last week’s poll had a narrower 5-point advantage for Democrats. (In 2008, the party identification split was 39 percent Democrat and 31 percent Republican, according to exit polls.)

Obama also remains ahead in Nevada.

Romney’s move may have come too late and after too sustained a spectacle of mistakes, going back to the London Olympics. The Republican National Convention also looms as a missed opportunity, though nothing could have buffeted Republicans against the phenomenal show of their Democratic opponents.

It makes every single debate critical for the Romney campaign. Tonight matters as well, especially on the base enthusiasm meter, which could end up being the whole election.

However, if Mitt Romney can capitalize and confirm his new status in presidential traits in the next debate, a town hall that makes this harder to accomplish, Obama could start to sag just as Election Day nears. But it would require escaping a hit for the extreme views Romney had to run on to win the nomination in the first place.

UPDATE: …and another poll, this one with analysis from Nate Silver explaining Romney’s surge and what it means with all the pollmania data we’re seeing. But again, as I’ve been saying, it remains advantage Obama.

For the time being, however, Mr. Romney continues to rocket forward in our projections. The forecast model now gives him about a one-in-three chance of winning the Electoral College (more specifically, a 32.1 percent chance), his highest figure since Aug. 22 and more than double his chances from before the debate. Mr. Romney may have increased his chances of becoming president by 15 or 20 percent based on one night in Denver.

The more troubling sign for Mr. Romney, however, is that although he’s made gains, he does not seem to have taken the lead in very many state polls. That trend, if anything, has become more entrenched. Of the half-dozen or so polls of battleground states published on Wednesday, none showed Mr. Romney ahead; the best result he managed was a 48-48 tie in a Rasmussen Reports poll of New Hampshire.