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|Debate shifts momentum|
It wasn't too long ago that it seemed certain President Barack Obama would be re-elected in November.
At least that's what appeared to be the case in light of the president putting some distance between himself and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. After all, polling in the key swing states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia – indicated Obama was poised to take them all, setting the stage for a landslide on election day, Nov. 6.
All of that changed, though, on Wednesday night of last week when Romney clearly outperformed Obama in the first presidential debate. At every turn and on each topic discussed, Romney did to Obama what the incumbent desperately needed to avoid – he made him look weak.
Prior to the debate, historically Democratic states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were safely in Obama's corner. That's not the case anymore. Polls taken during and shortly after the debate in Denver tells us all three states are in play, or within the margin of error, which seemed impossible just two weeks ago.
If you care to read the polls yourself, go to www.realclearpolitics.com. You can access polling on just about every state in the Union. Do more than read them. Study them. Look for trends. But you can ignore any poll taken before the first presidential debate. They're irrelevant now.
Meanwhile, post-debate polling shows Romney dead even with Obama in Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Virginia, all must-haves for Romney. North Carolina, a state Obama won four years ago, is trending Republican.
That leaves Ohio, a state Romney must win if he harbors any hope of securing the number of Electoral College votes that's needed to win the presidency. There literally is no other path to 270 for Romney if he can't take Ohio. None.
Decimated by the Great Recession, Ohio's economy has shown some life of late thanks a rebounding automobile industry, particularly the comeback staged by General Motors. While it is within reason to say GM would be dead and gone if it hadn't been for the billions of dollars the federal government poured into the company to bail it out, the fact remains GM is functioning today and the men and women who have jobs because of it, including tens of thousands of Ohioans, give Obama credit for making it happen.
Just another reason for the union bosses and their fellow travelers to rally the troops for Big O.
Yet, Romney changed the tone in the presidential race, and possibly the outcome of it, at a critical moment during the debate, or while under fire from Obama for his position on taxes and the debt.
Though he campaigned for the past 18 months on cutting taxes by some $5 trillion to help jumpstart a beleaguered U.S. economy, Romney switched gears during his faceoff with Obama and evolved into something Obama and the Democrats don't quite know to handle – a moderate Republican. And that's exactly what Romney became when he looked Obama in the eye and denied saying he would cut taxes by $5 trillion and declared he would not cut any taxes if it added the country's debt.
One of the slickest moves I've ever witnessed in American politics.
But it was effective.
We know it was effective because of the dramatic shift in polling following the debate, all in Romney's favor.
The big question is whether Romney can maintain the momentum between now and Nov. 6. But of course, the outcome of the presidential race will be determined by which party does the best job of getting its core base of support to the polls.
That's right. Turnout is the key, as is the case in every presidential race.
And turnout is driven by voter enthusiasm.
As it stands today, Romney has enthusiasm – and momentum — on his side.