Jonathan Chait has written a scattered article that has one interesting thing to say: the differences in polling between the swing states and the nation as a whole are not mysterious. Chait claims that this is just because in the swing states, voters couldn’t get away from the campaign. As a result, they didn’t learn anything in the debates. I have a slightly different take.
Obama did not lose any support because of the debate. Instead, Romney solidified support he already had. There was a group of 3-4% who supported Romney but weren’t willing to go public with it. They liked what they saw at the debate so they joined the Romney bandwagon. The endless campaigning in the swing states already pushed such people into the Romney camp.
The good news about this is that there are similar Obama supporters. At this point, they will still claim to be undecided. And now they are just waiting for Obama to give a decent enough debate performance to allow them to go public: “Yeah. I guess I’m an Obama supporter.” Of course, the down side of this is that Obama could continue to suck and so they won’t even vote. But expectations of Obama are so low, I don’t see this happening.
This is why I’m not that excited about the VP debate tonight. If Biden does very well, it will help a little. But people will still be waiting for a good Obama performance. On the other hand, if Biden does poorly, it could really hurt.
Update (11 October 2012 3:44 pm)
I will be doing a sort of live blogging thing over at The Reaction tonight. In the meantime, Nate Cohn over at The New Republican has a thought provoking article on the current presidential polls. He suggests that part of Obama’s decline is not real. Instead, it indicates that Obama voters are so depressed that they are less likely to participate in poll surveys. He provides a very compelling argument. Only time will tell. Regardless, it gets back to what I was talking about above: it may take an Obama debate victory for the polls to turn around.