Washington Update - October 15, 2012
Vianovo | Oct 15, 2012
The most frequent outcome of a debate is for partisans to feel their side won. That was true last week of the debate between vice presidential nominees Joe Biden and Paul Ryan; it was not true of the first presidential debate - President Barack Obama lost. He and Mitt Romney meet again this week.
The first presidential debate provided Mitt Romney a significant bounce in the national polls, moving from a few points behind to a few points ahead of President Obama. While Romney has narrowed the gap in key swing states that will decide the election, President Obama continues to hold an advantage in states with enough electoral votes to reelect the incumbent.
The erosion of support for President Obama comes despite fundamentals in his favor – job approval around 50 percent, declining unemployment and improving attitudes about the nation’s direction.
The first debate elevated voters' views of Mitt Romney as a potential president, an important threshold that had inhibited his growth potential, and increased enthusiasm among his supporters. In Tuesday night's town meeting format debate, Governor Romney needs to build on his success in the first debate to connect with voters and solidify his gains. Doing so will help him continue to chip away at President Obama's lead in swing states.
President Obama's task is more challenging. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden knocked down the effort to present Mitt Romney's agenda as bipartisan and moderate, including Representative Paul Ryan's budget proposal – an effort President Obama does not need to repeat. President Obama ought to tie recent economic growth to future confidence and suggest that the Romney agenda would destroy progress – all while remaining presidential.
The changing outlook for the presidential campaign has not impacted contests for Congress. Republicans are overwhelming favorites to retain their House majority; Democrats are slight favorites to win the Senate.