1. Larry is as nonpartisan as analysts can be these days.

2. The debate, I think, was, from a debating expert’s point of view, a victory for the president. But in terms of changing minds, it was a tie. That probably means the erosion of Romney’s new slight advantage on the enthusiasm front, but otherwise the polls won’t move much.

3. Pete was, as usual, always right below. The new big concern is that the foreign policy debate can’t help Romney. Pete explains why, as I have before. Obama’s goal is to make us seem less safe under Obama. That will be hard, simply because, as Jim said, there’s been no significant loss of noncombatant American life under Obama’s watch. And Obama will spin every Romney injunction to be more tough into the dangerous and hugely costly impulse to interventionism that animated President Bush. It’s not the time to use “national greatness” arguments. I’m on board with the thought that Romney needs to distinguish his tough foreign policy from Bush’s. That will be really hard. I have to add, following Carl, that Romney’s not-so-great foreign policy speech doesn’t give much hope. It, in fact, gives the president some useful fodder. But let us say that the foreign policy debate will be insignificant simply because the third debate is the least watched and people aren’t going to vote (except Jim) on FP anyway this time.

4. Having made that assumption, Larry and his experts remind us effectively about the electoral college challenge to Romney. He can’t win without carrying Ohio or Wisconsin, even if he “runs the table” otherwise.

5. Overall, my view, following the experts, is that what Romney is going to have to do is somehow improve his standing in the national polls another point or two for the “run the table” scenario with a key MIDWESTERN state to be all that plausible. And he’s going to have to do it without debate-generated mo’.

Articles by Peter Lawler

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