Super Tuesday—or Bloody Tuesday?
As almost everyone not still living in a yellow submarine must know by now, Mitt Romney had near-record gains because of his strong and Barack Obama’s weak debate performance less than two weeks ago. He moved from 3-5 points behind in the national polls to even or slightly ahead, though well within the margin of error in all polls. He also narrowed the gap in the all-important swing states, though the president retains a small advantage there, most importantly in all-important Ohio.
It appears, however, though all the numbers are not yet in, that Vice President Joe Biden’s aggressive debate performance against candidate Paul Ryan last Thursday staunched Obama’s bleeding. Despite the gibble-gabble of the cable babblers for the past few days, despite his excessive laughter and derision of Ryan, the viewing public gave the nod to the Veep.
Biden won the significant CBS poll flash poll among undecided voters by a 50-31 margin, though he narrowly lost CNN’s all-voter poll 48-44, just at the margin error. In the rubber match he won the Reuters/IPSOS poll 42-35, well outside the MOE.
It is universally accepted that he re-energized a demoralized Democratic base and may actually have moved the needle a bit toward his boss’s side. We won’t know the latter for a few more days, but by that time the issue will be moot because the second presidential debate will have taken place and it’s possible that the election outcome will be decided.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Tuesday’s town-hall style showcase. If Obama comes off anywhere near a poor second best, the game is up. If he overpowers Romney decisively, he can get back near where he was before with the game clock running down. If it’s a relative draw, he lives to fight another day.
Let’s say it’s a draw and the numbers stay where they are now, with no further deterioration. That would give Obama a narrow edge based on his advantage in the Electoral College. If he keeps Ohio, even by a point, and wins only one more of the disputed battleground states, he squeaks by even in the unlikely case of losing the popular vote.
What he has going for him in Ohio of course is the automobile bailout that saved the industry while Romney was suggesting it go into bankruptcy. Plus the state’s recent history of voting overwhelmingly to reject a right-wing, anti-labor law that Romney supported.
Further, even with a narrow debate loss, it’s my sense that when voters go to the polls the issue of preserving Social Security and Medicare will weigh heavily in state after state. By a wide margin, people do not want the changes the GOP team proposes and I don’t see Romney-Ryan changing many minds.
Then comes the well-documented sense that Obama is staunchly on the side of the middle class and “people like us.” R-R still have difficulties on this question.
Going against Obama is mishandling the attack on the Libyan consulate.
So it’s all up to him: Super Tuesday or Bloody Tuesday.
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer