The skinny kid with the graying hair did just fine last night. Anybody who doubted he's a fighter just had his face flattened.
That being said, will this debate make a difference? And while we wait for follow-up polling over the next few days, how do things look otherwise?
IT'S WONKY TIME!
1. NEVADA: A new (though pre-second debate) poll in Nevada shows Obama has increased his lead there from a week ago. Now he's at 48 v. 45 as compared with last week's 47 v. 46 result by the SAME pollster. (Comparing results from one pollster over time is often better than jumping from pollster to pollster.) Also the Democrats now have a 90,000 registration lead in Nevada over the GOP. Is Nevada important? If Obama holds all of Kerry's 2004 state victories and adds Ohio, he's still needs 4 more electoral college votes. And there sits Nevada with a nice fat 6!
2. OHIO: Still a 5-point lead for Obama as of the latest respectable polls. Remember always that it's virtually impossible for Romney to win without Ohio. A couple of weeks ago the GOP was reportedly bringing busloads of volunteers into Ohio from Alabama. (I'd like to hear an Alabaman at some Ohio voter's door trying to sound like she's "from the neighborhood"!) That's not a good sign for the GOP. Though the Romney effort in Ohio is reportedly cranking up big now, it's late to get a limping ground game into top shape. (I used to run these ground games.) And if Romney was in fact having to bring in the troops from Alabama, that says his campaign is running way late. Besides, as the Music Man says, "They don't know the territory!"
3. SENATE SEATS AND OBAMA: Something funny is going on. During the period after Debate #1, when the media were screaming that Romney was surely pulling ahead of Obama in the polls, the Democratic candidates in about eight supposed-to-lose Senate races went right on doing just fine, still beating all the earlier predictions of a Democratic wipe-out in these seats. Now, it certainly is true that a Senate race can beat the top of the ticket here and there and now and then. But when a whole bunch of Senate races seem to be going opposite the polls for the top of the ticket - well, that just doesn't make sense. Only if these were long-time, beloved incumbents could it add up. And these aren't. These races are almost all just two newcomers battling it out or a one-termer like Montana's Dem Senator Jon Tester battling for re-election. (I'm not including the Senate race in Missouri in my count of eight because Tom Aiken is from another planet. Is Dem Senator Claire McCaskill Irish and thus so lucky?)
Are a couple of national polls off about Obama v. Romney (Pew and USAToday) or are all the pollsters covering eight separate Senate seats wrong? You decide where you'd bet the farm.
4. A "DUMB" POLL: GALLUP/USA/TODAY: The term "dumb" is Nate Silver's, the whiz-bang poll analyst for the NY Times, in describing yesterday's Gallup/USAToday poll claiming to show Obama losing in some key swing states. What's dumb? Gallup didn't poll these states separately but merely broke out the respondents state-by-state from its national poll. Why is this dumb? Because Gallup ended up with a sample in each state so small as to be totally non-credible. With only 1000+ respondents nationwide, the number of respondents in any one state was waaaaay below a meaningful sample. That's a criticism quite different from the GOP yelling that earlier polls had too many Democrats. Pollsters take what they find regarding number of GOP versus number of Democrats. That's standard operating procedure. But having too small a sample is a big fat no-no among all reliable pollsters. Bottom line: ignore yesterday's USAToday/Gallup.
5. THE WOMEN: There's a big ballyhoo that Obama's losing his edge with women in the key states. This latest whoop comes from the same poll discussed at #4. It's doubly faulty because Gallup's break-out of just women reduces the sample size to a pinhead. Chuck Todd, MSNBC's poll numbers addict, got in just one sentence in all the uproar: "Obama is not losing his margin with women!" A voice crying in the wilderness of pundits determined on hype.
That's enough wonkiness for now. (There will be a quiz.)
So lift a beer to the skinny fighter who so cleverly ended the debate by smacking Romney with the 47%. The closing words are supposedly those longest remembered. Good job, Mr. President!
Now let us have the last word on this election. Let's get our folks OUT TO VOTE!
Yeah, Romney, and you ain't heard the last word on those tax returns! Turn 'em loose!