(Providence, Rhode Island) – I am now home after covering the second Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in New York (see photo). One more debate to go and lots of polling as we are just over two weeks away from the election. Here are my weekly observations:
Still a Toss Up – Despite all the fanfare for this poll, or that poll, this race is still very much up for grabs. The latest Real Clear Politics average of all recent polls has it 47.0 percent for President Obama, to 47.0 percent for Governor Romney. Assuming that 3 percent will go to third-party candidates, it looks like there are about 3 percent undecided out there who will decide this race.
Trending Romney – The Electoral College map lists nine battleground states that are very close right now. If you simply total all the states, based on who is ahead in the average polling of each, you get Obama 278 to Romney 260. Prior to the debates, Romney had 206 Electoral votes safely in his column. Only one-of-nine battleground states favored him - that being North Carolina. He has now pulled ahead in Florida, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Virginia.
On, Wisconsin? – Let’s assume the Obama 278 to Romney 260 estimate is correct. Right now Wisconsin and its 10 Electoral Votes are in the Obama column, but it is close. If the Badge State flips to Romney, he wins the Electoral College 270 to 268. Is Wisconsin “the” state this time around, as Florida was in 2000 and Ohio in 2004? Stay tuned!
Broken Record? – By the way, my Electoral College math in “On Wisconsin?” assumes that Romney loses Ohio. So, yes, it is now possible from Romney to lose Ohio, but still wins the Election. No Republican in modern history has ever won the White House, without winning Ohio. This may break the streak.
Debate 3 – I bet Libya dominates at least half the final debate. I knew when I left Hofstra University and the second debate the other night that the Libya controversy was not over and had not been addressed sufficiently by either candidate. They could spend at least 20 or 30 minutes on this foreign issue alone and maybe even longer.
Put Me In Coach! – If I were coaching President Obama, I would remind people, (and do it more that once in this debate), that the world is a safer place now that Osama bin Laden was killed. I also think the President needs to acknowledge that mistakes were made by his administration in Libya. The public is much more forgiving that we think. If you acknowledge the mistakes and promise to investigate and correct them, it’s better that letting the story change as many times as it already has. If I were coaching Governor Romney, I would say he must hammer the President relentlessly on Libya. He needs to do it in a timeline, explaining “who said what” in the days after the attack. Romney missed the opportunity in the last debate, because he was too fixated on just the President’s remarks the day following the attack. He needs to connect the dots. Now, my advice to both candidates is to make these points in the first half-hour of the debate, because then viewers tune out. The quarter-hour between 9:15 and 9:30 EDT has consistently had the highest number of viewers in the debates thus far.
It’s Still the Economy, Stupid! – Bill Clinton’s old line still rings true. Yes, I know this supposed to be a foreign policy debate, but each candidate must show how foreign policy affects our economy. This can’t be a professorial lecture on the intricacies of foreign affairs. They need to talk about how foreign policy affects prices at the gas pump; the trade imbalance that prevents us from exporting more goods and leads to job layoffs in the U.S.; and how selling our debt to foreign countries makes us less secure economically. Unless each man can connect foreign policy to your purse or wallet, the debate could fall on deaf ears.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions and quibbles! Click the comment button on www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.