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Swing state polls: Is Mitt Romney running out of time?

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According to the NBC/WSJ/Marist polls, the number of undecided voters in the swing states at this point is downright tiny. In Ohio, for example, just 6 percent were undecided – which means that if Romney were to wind up winning every one of those undecided voters, he would still fall short.

And as MSNBC’s First Read points out, a lot of those undecided voters probably aren’t going to bother casting ballots in the end. They write: “These are voters who simply aren’t paying attention…. they seem disengaged from the campaign, and they don’t call themselves enthusiastic about the election. They are probably NOT voters.”

In other words, we’ve now reached the point in the campaign when opinions have become fairly set. Most people who are actually going to vote already know who they’re voting for – and barring some big, unexpected event, they’re not going to change their minds.

Adding to the cake-is-baked dynamic is the fact that early voting is actually about to begin in many swing states. In Ohio, for example, early voting begins Oct. 2 – and roughly a quarter of the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll respondents in Ohio said they planned to vote before Election Day. In North Carolina, absentee ballots are already available, and they will become available next week in Virginia and Wisconsin.

But what about the debates? Can’t Romney turn things around with a surprisingly strong performance – or maybe some well-timed zingers?

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