Did Obama win the debate or did Romney? The consensus is that Romney won. I disagree. But, either way, it doesn't matter.
What matters is Ohio. Obama is leading in Ohio by 8 points. That's the election right there.
With the states Kerry won in 2004 (adjusted for changes in the 2010 census) Obama has a base of 248 electoral college votes. Ohio gives him another 18. That's 266. All he needs is is 4 more electoral votes to reach the magic 270. He's now leading in Nevada with its 6 electoral votes. That's 272.
As back-up, he's also leading in all the other swing states except North Carolina.
It seems unlikely the debate will change any of this. Especially Ohio. It's hard to imagine that nearly ten percent of the voters in Ohio will change their minds because of the so-called win by Romney in the debate. And the undecided in Ohio? There aren't enough of them to make the difference. Further, many who are undecided this late in a campaign don't show up on Election day.
Am I just rationalizing away a debate disappointment? No. You can't argue with numbers, not when the spread in Ohio is 8 points. But that won't stop the pundits from blaring that Romney's debate "performance" makes this is "a new ball game." That's the story line that suits their need to keep the game going. Now they have something to justify their continuing blather, i.e. their jobs. It's a very wobbly peg to hang their hats on.
Setting aside the polling numbers, what about the debate? Maybe the talking heads watched a different debate than I did. I SAW Romney as an overly-excited, overly-aggressive and defensive contender who was flailing away like a drowning man. I HEARD him outright ABANDON his oft-stated pledge to "cut taxes 20% across the board" and lie about a number of things. By contrast, Obama was cool and restrained in appearance and concise in making his case. Like a steady captain at the helm, trying to steer the ship past the iceberg-size lies Romney kept throwing out. It's exasperating trying to debate someone who changes positions right before your eyes, and Obama did well in controlling his exasperation. A bit of that exasperation, and the effort to control it, showed in his often looking down rather than at Romney. But that's okay.
In Obama's position, I would have walked over and decked Romney. That's one way to pin jello to a wall. Or, more accurately, to the floor.
What counts most is what we SAW. The visuals of television are what give it enormous power. The cliche that "the medium is the message" is quite true. Howard Dean advised this week that one turn off the sound and just WATCH the two men. I tried that, having recorded the whole thing. Romney LOOKED wildly desperate. And his hair was weird, different from usual and looking as though he'd forgotten to comb it.
But he also looked wild and desperate with the sound on.
Because he IS desperate! With Ohio apparently gone, he's sinking past any rational hope.
And in his despair, he threw Big Bird under the bus, specifically saying he "likes" Big Bird but would kill funding for PBS. And what about "Downton Abbey"? Is the man crazy? All over America millions and millions of viewers are waiting for January 6 and season three of America's favorite soap. It's women's Super Bowl! Be sure to remind any wobbling voters you know - especially the women - that Romney wants to kill their favorite show.
The bottom line is still the same: Obama saved the auto industry, and that wise decision has saved Ohio for him. And he will save the rest of us from the rapaciousness of Romney's GOP. And he will also save Big Bird!
The only way Obama can foreseeably lose this election is if Democrats don't get out and vote. Sadly, there is still a reported "enthusiasm gap". So we're the ones on the spot. If we don't help get out the vote, Big Bird can turn to us and say, "Et tu, Brute?" Coming from a bird, that will really hurt.
So, Mitt. the pundits are attacking President Obama for not mentioning your income tax returns (or lack thereof) in the debate. So you think you're off the hook? Forget it, baby! We still want those tax returns! And so does Big Bird!