Almost every presidential election provides its own “October Surprise.” A state or two that no one thought was competitive suddenly comes into play. Which states come into play can tell you a lot about the underlying trends of the race. When Obama suddenly looked competitive in traditional “red states” like Indiana, Montana, Virginia and North Carolina, it was a good indication that a big Dem wave was building. Which states are surprisingly competitive this year? It ain’t the “red states.”
In the wake of Romney’s epic debate performance last week, every national and swing state poll has shown significant movement toward the Republican candidate. This isn’t unexpected. The polls in the swing states have long shown a very close race between Obama and Romney. The clear win Romney enjoyed from the debate ought to move the numbers in his direction.
What is surprising is that the Romney surge is showing up in even the bluest of the blue states. Two polls released yesterday showed Obama leading by only 3 points in Michigan. Two polls in Pennsylvania found Obama’s lead fell to only 2-3 points. That these states seem competitive signals the damage Obama suffered from his horrible debate performance.
The left and the media have consoled themselves with the notion that Kerry bested Bush in their first Presidential debate and that incumbent presidents often stumble in their first outing. While this is true, a failure to win a debate on points doesn’t come close to describing Obama’s epic failure last week. Yesterday, Gallup released a poll finding 72% of adults thought Romney won the debate while just 20% thought Obama won the debate. Romney’s 52-point beat down of Obama is the largest gap ever recorded.
In contrast, Obama was judged the winner of all three debates against McCain.
We’ve reached the point in the election where you should ignore what the campaigns say and pay attention to what they do. Time is running out and tough decisions will have to be made. Where do they put their advertising dollars and, more precious, where do the candidates spend their time?
So, here’s a tell: Paul Ryan is in Michigan today. The Romney campaign is at least tentatively making a play for the state. Over the next week, watch where Obama and Biden campaign and where the two parties put their ad money. If Michigan and Pennsylvania remain competitive, Obama’s reelection is in trouble.