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Presidential debate: Open thread

By Doug Powers  •  October 16, 2012 08:11 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

The latest Gallup numbers over a nine day period ending yesterday tell the story of which direction the momentum is swinging with just three weeks to go until the election:

With three weeks to go in the campaign, Obama appears to be losing momentum, and now trails Romney by four percentage points among likely voters. That contrasts with his seven-point win over McCain in 2008. Given this shift in overall voter preferences, it follows that Obama will have lost support among at least some subgroups of the electorate. Those losses are not proportionate across all subgroups, however. He shed the most support among Southerners, college graduates, postgraduates, 30- to 49-year-olds, men, and Protestants. He also lost a moderate amount of support among whites, Easterners, women, and Catholics — while not building new support elsewhere.

Gallup’s registered voter trends indicate that Obama has lost ground with voters since the start of the month, most likely reflecting his poorly reviewed performance in the first presidential debate. Gallup research indicates that debates are rarely transformative events in presidential elections, but Denver may ultimately be seen as an exception, given the changes, albeit minor, that ensued in what has been a highly competitive election. Obama must now hope to reverse those with a resounding win of his own in at least one or both of the upcoming debates in New York and Florida.

Romney has gathered steam in swing states as well, and is surging in other national polls as well, though a Reuters poll showed Obama still up slightly.

Romney managing to bring Benghazi into the discussion during the subject of foreign policy and mentioning today’s A123 bankruptcy when President Obama goes off on “clean energy jobs” flights of fancy are almost sure things. The questions for me are what form will Obama’s inevitable hit on Romney’s “47 percent” remark take, will he be desperate enough to re-visit previous Bain attacks that have been debunked, and how many “buck stops with me” type proclamations will Obama make to remedy this?

The debate format is my least favorite: Town hall style featuring questions from people who are allegedly undecided — emphasis on allegedly. A previous CNN town hall event featuring purported undecideds ended up having so many plants in the audience the debate should have been held in a greenhouse. Drinking game rules for tonight are simple: Do a shot whenever you say to yourself, “That man asking a question looks a lot like Stephanie Cutter in Groucho glasses.”

Sadly, CNN nixed my suggestion for the moderator to introduce herself by looking at Obama and saying I, Candy.” Bummer.

Weigh in with your thoughts, and if you can’t catch the debate just watch Chris Matthews later and you’ll be able to easily figure out who won. Matthews is already suggesting contingency plans for disenchanted Obama supporters if it’s clear early on the debate isn’t going well for the president again. You can watch the debate live online here.

Oh, and free beer for reporters.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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Categories: 2012 Campaign, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Media