Five days after the close of the Democratic National Convention, and amidst a curiously subdued commemoration of 9/11, it’s now clear that Barack Obama has gained the much-talked about bump in his polling, something that evaded the Republicans after their convention in Tampa the week before.

Running evens or even a point behind before the Convention, Obama is now running a clear 4-5% in front of Republican contender Mitt Romney. The polls are consistent across several different organisations, with even the notoriously right-shifted Rasmussen Report giving Obama a three-point bounce. Gallup had the lead at six points.

The bounce appears to be playing out in the all-important swing state of Ohio as well, with a four-point lead showing, up from about 1-2%, although the same group (Gravis Marketing), also show Obama down by five points in Virginia, a major drop if true.

The lift in Democrat fortunes has occurred despite the terrible job figures released on Friday, the day after the triumphal DNC in Charlotte. Fewer than 100,000 people found employment, and 300,000 left the jobs market altogether. The result left the unemployment rate down — from 8.3% to 8.1% on paper — but it was an underwhelming figure, economically and politically.

The Democrats have treated the figures as en clair –– a drop is a drop in the unemployment rate. But conservative commentators have supplied an equally simplified counter-explanation — that everyone leaving the market would otherwise want full-time work. The problem for any government in the US is that the economy should either be transitioning to a social democratic economy, with millions drawn into training, education and work on large-scale projects such as the creation of a clean-energy grid and a high-speed rail network — or it should be transitioning to a low-growth, reduced hours economy in which metrics other than raw GDP assess the well-being of a society.

The latter is so far out of political reach at the moment as to not be worth talking about — but even the former proposal was beyond the powers of the Obama presidency to achieve, even when it controlled the House in 2009-10. Whether that was due to lack of possibility, or lack of will, will remain a topic of debate, but it has certainly been out of reach for at least two years now.

The Democrat bounce will lose its energy pretty rapidly — indeed yesterday’s Washington Post shows a mere one-point lead in likely voters — but the fact that the Republicans have had no rise in their fortunes whatsoever leaves them badly behind. They placed great hopes on a bad jobs result, but that does not seem to have delivered either.

Their fortunes do not appear to have been helped by Romney’s appearance on a range of Sunday morning talkshows — most particularly the venerable Meet The Press, where he appeared with wife Ann. The idea of having Ann along is part of the GOP’s desperate attempt to close the gender gap, which Mitt is losing by 12-15 points, by having his facelifted, blonde, dressage-addicted broodsow talk about matters domestic — and hope that some left Democrat woman will say something along the “broodsow” line above, and thus turn the gender wars into the mommy wars, and rely on the preening left-liberal arrogance of the Democrat hierarchy to piss off some housewives.

But it didn’t exactly go according to plan. Under questioning, Ann admitted the obvious — that she and Mitt had never really struggled at any point in their lives. Once Mitt came back from missionary work in France and they started a marriage as students, they survived by “chipping away” at stock that Mitt’s father had given him. The stock, in American Motors, was worth $60,000 in 1970, or about $400,000 in today’s terms, and covered them for two years, so y’know. Ann’s admission thus makes a mockery of the homesteading image — making carpet out of cutoffs, ironing board as a dining table, knitting Mitt a briefcase out of spam, etc — that she premiered at the RNC, which would seem to turn the whole routine a bit of a potential net negative.

That suggests, again, that the Romney campaign is badly run and co-ordinated, a sense underlined by Mitt’s casual admission, on the same show, that there were parts of Obamacare he would retain, most particularly the ban on insurance companies refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Since the line from the Right has always been that Obamacare should be repealed root-and-branch, Romney’s utterly commonsense concession blows a hole in their line that the Affordable Care Act is some sort of outburst from the gates of hell.

As Huffington Post gleefully noted, sections of the Right are already peeling off to assault Romney’s leadership as a lacklustre one, not representing real conservatism.The main problem for Romney is that, with seven weeks to go, the pool of undecided voters — particularly undecided voters in swing states — is getting very, very small indeed, down to two or three million at most — which means, hundreds and even tens of thousands of voters in key states. This time last election, there was a larger group of such voters, many of them waiting to make a final decision about the young, black, first-term Senator, making his audacious claim to the White House.

This time around there is no such wild card. Obama is all too familiar to such voters, and Romney is well-enough known from his ’08 primary run. Were he a different sort of man, a different type, he might be able to stage some audacious show of personality, some bold move — as of the McCain Palin pick, which at least had the virtue of courage. But Romney’s image is now mired in gaffes and giggles, in a sense of flightiness and frivolousness, of being an unserious man. The DNC helped to reinforce this — painting the Republicans as contradictory and inconsistent on foreign affairs, hawkish and shield-banging to no purpose, unfocused on real challenges.

That problem has been compounded by vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who was taken up in a bid to find the anti-Palin, and is well on the way to becoming the next Palin, with entirely unforced errors such as his bizarre “three-hour marathon” boast.

Now there is a three-week gap from now until the first of four debates, which will frame the final months. The Republicans will be praying for a game-changing event of the type, if not the exact copy of the 2008 financial crash. But there is no guarantee that they will be able to handle that any better than did John McCain last time. If, unbelievably, Barack Obama can position himself as the candidate of change and progress, and also as the safe and boring pair of hands, then the GOP is in deep trouble.

Everything about today — 11.09.12 here — has suggested that many feel that the country is entering a new period, with last year’s 10th anniversary marking the divide between one period and the next. Come the hour, cometh the man — Obama, who offers more modest dreams for a circumspect era, and dependable, if disappointing stewardship. Perhaps, in the end, they will simply sack him, and hire the white businessman — but if not, there will be nowhere for the Republicans to go, and what was once a tight election may lengthen out to a more resounding victory than hitherto predicted.