The Day Of The Last Debate

Polls are said to reflect a tied election, but Romney is said to have tactical advantage. Turnout will be supremely important. Look for increased effort on both sides to get voters to the polls. There is a big gender gap and a big Latino gap with women and Latinos strongly favoring President Obama and men favoring Governor Romney.

The last two weeks of the campaign are obviously critical with Romney needing to capture most of the swing states in order to capture the necessary electoral votes to win the election. President Obama, having made it back from a disastrous performance in the first debate to a good one in the second, must now do more than show up in the third and final debate. Nearly two thirds of the electorate are wanting to hear about a tougher program from President Obama on what he will do in the next term if he gets one.

The state polls in many swing states are confusing because many early voters are no longer answering polling calls which may be also be going largely unanswered by younger voters and Hispanic voters. There is considerable disagreement  about the polling in some key states among Democrats and Republicans and we probably won’t know how it really turns out until after we begin to see the election results in about two weeks. Most likely disagreements and polling differences will only be magnified between now and election day. Based on what happened in 2008 it’s clear the polls won’t be any more accurate than they are now. Close polling give the margin of error must be regarded as reflecting a toss up or as a democratic advantage if there is a projected good turnout of young and Hispanic voters. Most likely both campaigns will spend more time and advertising money in those states as we approach election day.

Today’s debate on foreign affairs issues is likely not critical though one or the other of the candidates may say something controversial that could help or hurt. Most likely they will be essentially where they are now at the end of the day.  Then the race to the finish line will be on.

After tonight’s debate the two candidates will likely be spending most of the remaining time before the election in key swing states each believes he has to have in order to get the necessary 270 electoral votes. How much either can influence the outcome is not clear. Neither can afford to say something really controversial that the other campaign will jump on and magnify. If either says anything which is not just cautiously optimistic, I’ll be surprised. Look for liberals to try to inflame conservatives or for conservative to try to inflame liberals. Both candidates have been wisely ignoring their base and should continue to do so as we go toward election day. Neither base can be happy but both must understand that the present electioneering has to focus on undecided voters who are, for the most part, less aggressively political in their views.  Still, look for potentially inappropriate comments for strongly conservative or liberal voters in the last two weeks.  Anything that sets off a firestorm won’t help.

Political ads on both sides have been strongly negative. We should see these move in a more positive direction in the last two weeks, and it would be a mistake for either campaign to go increasingly negative as there could be a small backlash that could be critical in such a close election. Further, because of the large block of early voters and the usual problems with polling, it will be wise for the campaigns to depend on them only to show where they should spend their time, as these are races that are close and that could go either way.

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