According to Krauthammer: “The problem for Romney is that there were only four events [that] could change the course [of the race]: the three debates and the conventions, and he apparently squandered the first.”
Charles focuses on the tactical error that was Clinton Eastwood. What Clinton really meant etc. occupied conservatives. It’s an understatement to say his performance didn’t impress swing voters. In so many ways, as Pete has shown, squandered is the right word.
Obama, as Charles adds, made it clear that he really cares. And so he recovered the love of his party. Caring is not as good as succeeding, but maybe good enough. Especially if it’s not clear the other guy even cares.
The truth is Romney is clearly behind. Given the small number of undecided voters, it’ll be tough for him to make up lost ground. He’s behind, if only a bit many cases, in virtually all the battleground states. Ohio looks pretty bad.
So there are the debates. The single debate in 1980 was a pretty decisive win for Reagan. What chance is there that Romney will do as well as Reagan–or Obama as badly as Carter did–over a series of three debates in a very hostile media environment? Maybe, as in the case of Reagan, Romney’s bar is the fairly low credible and caring alternative to the incumbent. But the economy is not really as bad as it was in 1980, and there’s no hostage crisis to make the incumbent look weak and otherwise inept in foreign policy.
The situation isn’t hopeless, of course. I think Romney is now, once again, as low as he can go.