National elections are fun. Aren't they?
We've seen three debates. Romney was the overwhelming winner of the first debate in Denver, the President won the last two.
But does winning the debate mean you're going to win the election? Depends.
The number one issue facing the country is the economy. Foreign policy isn't even on the radar for most people.
A victory in a foreign policy debate is a Pyrrhic victory for the President. It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help him convince people that he can change the trajectory of the economy. When you focus the performances of the two candidates on just the economy, Romney has won all three of the debates - handily.
That's why the race is so close.
There's is something happening out there. Three of the undecided focus groups (CBS, MSNBC, FOX) gave Romney the edge last night - mainly due to his performance on the economy. All of the snap polls gave Obama the victory in the debate. That tells me that the voters are saying "yes, the President is smart, he won, but we don't care about that issue. On the issue that we care about - the economy, we are going with Romney." Fascinating.
Romney will have to tap into that sentiment harder, and the Republican ground game will have to work like it has never done before. Republicans hate grass roots politics, they just don't get how important the mechanics of a campaign are. Democrats love grass roots politics, and they are exceptionally good at it.
Romney will need more than just a tie in the polls on election day in places like Ohio and Virginia, he will need to be 3-4 percentage points ahead of the President Obama in each critical battleground state to make up for the Democrats GOTV effort - a tall order.
Conversely, if I'm in Chicago today at the Obama headquarters, I am very nervous, and I am working on turnout, turnout, turnout. I would be deeply concerned about the youth vote. Since Obama leads by such a huge margin in that demographic, he must get them to the polls on election day. The enthusiasm of 08' is not there yet. If they don't show up, he will lose.
Two weeks to go.. this is getting interesting.