There is simply no way I can resist passing along a column that carries a subhed like this: “Obama won the debate, and everyone but Romney and the Republicans know that.”
The piece is Michael Tomasky, and you should read THE WHOLE THING:
Today may be the most important single day of the campaign. Obama won the debate. Everyone this side of Charles Krauthammer agrees that Romney was general and platitudinous and not that engaged. That makes two out of three. You might think that would mean momentum. And yet the conventional wisdom is congealing right now—it is hardening this morning, minute by minute—that Romney is going to win the election.
From Playbook, which distills the c.w.: President Obama won last night’s foreign-policy debate on substance, in snap polls and with the pundits, but Mitt Romney did well enough that for the first time in six years, Romney folks emailed, “We’re going to win.”
In reality, Obama is the favorite. The state maps still make him so. Nate Silver, the only person who takes every single poll into account (plus loads of other indicators), still has him so. This emerging c.w. is built more on spin and smell, which the media are starting to buy. One piece that Mike Allen bought this morning in that Playbook item: A Romney aide told him New Hampshire leans their way.
Ridiculous. Even RCP has Obama +3 in New Hampshire. A poll yesterday had him up nine. He’s never trailed there. It’s been a fight, true, but he is clearly on course to win it. But the Romney aide just threw it out there. Not blaming him or her—it’s the kind of thing you throw out when you want to start giving an impression of inevitability. But that is what the Romney team is trying now to do. (It’s up to journalism, of course, to say when something doesn’t seem true.)
So today is the most crucial day of the campaign. Republicans are going to be filling journalists’ heads with the inevitability “reality”: a few poll results, a few morsels from the trail, and so on. A lot of the media will keep writing it that way, too.
What should Obama do? Well, Republicans want to make Democrats fearful and jittery and reactive—appear to be accepting the Republican premise. So basically, anything but that. These next two or three days will be crucial, and if the Democrats do seem fearful and reactive, they’ll help the new c.w. congeal and maybe help seal a fate that the facts don’t yet come close to foreordaining.