There's a new injury going around in political circles these days: it's called political whiplash.
It's caused by the ever changing -- sometimes violently so -- perceptions of the presidential contest.
This week started with dour predictions about Mitt Romney's chances. "He can't win Ohio and Wisconsin!" "His messaging is a mess!" "Donors are going to abandon him!"
But by Wednesday night -- WHACK -- the views of the punditocracy shifted drastically. "Romney crushed the debate!" "President Obama was missing in action!" "This is a brand new race!!!"
Then came Friday morning's job report. WHAM! "The October surprise!" "Romney's bump goes bust!" "Obama back up, Romney down."
And what about next week's vice presidential debate. Will the race get rear-ended by Paul Ryan? Bumped by Joe Biden?
Fortunately, there is a cure for this. It involves focusing less on the minute by minute movements and more on the fundamentals.
And, at this point, the fundamentals favor Obama.
1) Voters are feeling (somewhat) better about the economy and direction of the country.
BLS Conspiracy theorists take note: Americans were feeling better about the state of the economy and Obama's handling of it before the jobs report came out.
This is not to say that Americans think the economy is rockin'. Or that the president is doing a tremendous job of putting it back on solid footing. But, they don't think the economy is as bad today as it was a year ago. And, a small -- but growing number -- think it's getting better.
On Friday, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reported that consumer confidence had climbed for a sixth straight week, the "longest such stretch since early 2006."
The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 44 percent of Americans thought the economy will get better over the next year – the highest percentage since the fall of 2009, and six points better than the fall of 2008.
A year ago, a whopping 77 percent of Americans polled by ABC News/Washington Post said that the country was headed in the wrong direction.
Today, that number has dropped 18 points to 60 percent. So, while a majority of Americans still aren't happy with the way things are going in the country, it is a smaller majority than it was last fall.
Furthermore, the pollster.com trend line shows that since early August there has been a steady increase in the percentage of Americans who think things are headed in the right direction and a steady decrease in the number who see it as off track.
2) Despite frustration with Obama, Romney is not seen as better able to handle the economy.
A majority of voters continue to disapprove of the job Obama is doing on the economy. But, they are less disappointed in him than they used to be. And, they don't see Romney as able to do any better.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll showed 47 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved of the job the president was doing on the economy. That is the strongest the president has been on this question since the summer of 2010 and a 10 point improvement since last fall.
Meanwhile, voters' confidence that Romney will do a better job on the economy has dropped significantly between August and September. Back in August, Romney had a seven point lead on the question of who'd do a better job on the economy.
Today, Romney and Obama are tied. Gallup showed a similar trend between August and September.