Published: PolicyMic (October 12, 2012)
If you’re supporting Barack Obama in this election, here are the hard political realities regarding how the final two presidential debates will impact his chances of victory:
The Bad News:
Because he is widely perceived as having lost the first debate, Barack Obama’s political standing has taken a major hit.
The lead he accumulated after Bill Clinton’s masterful DNC speech and the revelation of Mitt Romney’s polarizing “47 percent” comments has not only evaporated, but been replaced by a deficit. An average of the eight national polls taken entirely after that debate (i.e., which started surveying on and/or after October 4th) puts Romney ahead by slightly more than one point (47.1% to 46%), with the most optimistic projections merely showing a tied race (as opposed to Obama leading in any of them) and the bleaker ones having the president behind by as much as four points (Pew Poll: 49% to 45%). Similarly, the post-debate swing state polls have Obama ahead by at least three points in only two states (Pennsylvania: 49.3% to 44.3% and Michigan: 48.8% to 44.4%), ahead by only one to three points in four states (Ohio: 47.9% to 46.6%, Wisconsin: 50% to 47.7%, Iowa: 49% to 47%, and Nevada: 48.3% to 46.3%), behind by one to three points in a single state (New Hampshire: 49% to 47%), behind by at least three points in two states (North Carolina: 50.5% to 44.5% and Florida: 49.4% to 46.2%), and essentially tied in two states (Virginia, where he is ahead 48% to 47.8%, and Colorado, where he is behind 47.4% to 47.2%). If this status quo remains in place on Election Day, the undecideds lean toward Romney (which the post-debate zeitgeist leads one to intuit will be the case), and he thus loses every swing state except the two in which he is ahead by a relatively safe margin, he will fall behind in the Electoral College – where presidential elections are decided – by 301 to 237. Even the consolation of a popular vote victory will be unlikely, as the trend of Romney posting one-to-two point leads (and Obama not pulling ahead in any of the post-debate polls) suggests that the status quo would have the Republican win, albeit by a small margin.