This debate is of larger than normal import because we are 15 days away from Election Day - and the President remains in real electoral trouble as the race has turned 180 degrees during this month.
While the President demonstrated some real weaknesses in the polls prior to this month, the meme of the mainstream media was that the challenger, Mitt Romney, was the candidate in real trouble. Using polls which consistently measured Republican enthusiasm at levels at or below those of 2008, the collective 'Ministry of Truth' tried to push the view that an Obama reelection was going to be close, but inevitable - despite the internals of the polls that showed independents breaking against Barack Obama.
After the President's dismal performance at the first Presidential debate, Mitt Romney's campaign received a significant surge in support on both a national level and in many of the key battleground states. Since that debate on October 3rd, the President has fought to halt that preference surge towards his challenger - largely unsuccessful. Tonight's debate represents the President's last chance to halt that surge and turn the tide.
There are a number of conditions that are working against the President being able to do this, short of a complete and utter collapse by Mitt Romney during the debate.
As I've covered, the President does not have a domestic or economic policy record that he can run on. The economy remains stagnant in the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. That is hardly surprising since FDR's 'New Deal' agenda contributed to that brutally slow recovery - and Barack Obama embarked on his own 'New Deal'-like Keynesian economic agenda when he took office in January 2009. We were promised, if we spent nearly $1 trillion stimulus package, the economy would turn around - with a GDP growth rate of over 4% and unemployment rate of 5.6% by this time. In reality, we are looking at a declining GDP growth rate - now 1.3% and if we use the labor participation rate of January 2009, we would have an unemployment rate of 11% - not the 'official' rate of 7.8%.
The 'most open and transparent' Administration ever has turned out to be far from the most open and transparent. The major Departments and Agencies of the Executive Branch have had significant scandals. On top of this, the President has taken numerous controversial steps outside of Congressional approvals and raise issues of Presidential overreach.
On foreign policy - the President also has a very questionable record. It is difficult to see the world safer today than it was on President George W. Bush's last day in office - and our relations with friends is more tenuous - and our enemies appear emboldened by the missteps and appeasement policies of Barack Obama.
He has treated a number of our friends and allies extremely callously...
... as we see above when the Dalai Lama exits the WH via the back door, next to the mounds of trashbags, as opposed to exiting via the 'front door'. He's insulted Britain and Israel - two of our primary allies on several occasions - and how others view the US is the same or worse today as it was when President Bush left office.
The combination of a dismal economy, a massively progressive domestic policy, and a feckless foreign policy has fueled comparisons between the Obama Administration and what many constitute as the worst Presidency of the 20th Century - that of the one-term Jimmy Carter.
This is the environment that we seen at this stage of the political race.
Over the weekend, a NBC / Wall Street Journal poll touted the race as a toss-up - a 47-47 tie between the candidates - with commentary that the President's campaign might have slowed down the momentum Mitt Romney gained from the Oct. 3rd debate win. But as analysis and review shows - this is just another case of a sympathetic and supporting old guard media working to promote their preferred perception as opposed to reporting on things as they actually are.
We've talked on how the key swing states are starting to break - with Mitt Romney moving into the lead in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado. The Obama campaign is now talking about defining Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Ohio, all original swing states, as 'firewall states' - states that they will make their stand in order to prevent Mitt Romney from achieving the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidential election.
But with all of this talk of 'firewalls' - getting downplayed are states once thought 'safe', states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and perhaps Connecticut, New Jersey, and Minnesota - now being in play in the wake of the seismic change that took place as the race entered it's last month.
This morning, the latest Politico / GWU Battleground poll was released - showing that Mitt Romney leads among national likely voters 49% to 47%. This same poll last week had Barack Obama in the lead 49% to 48%. The poll also shows in the 10 swing states, Romney leads 50% to 48%. In both the national and swing state numbers, the poll also shows Mitt Romney having a substantial lead among those who define themselves as Independents - not Republicans or Democrats - at or above the level that Barack Obama won Independents in 2008.
As has become commonplace, this poll understates Republican enthusiasm and turnout using a model that is far closer to the 2008 election levels than the 2010 midterm election levels. Like yesterday's NBC News / WSJ poll, the above poll thinks that the Republican turnout model will be lower than it was in 2008.
The mainstream media pundits continue to call Ohio as the state that will decide the contest - just as Ohio was the critical state in 2004. The disgraced former anchor of the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather, is now pontificating that since Republicans dominate the Ohio state government, they will embark on a massive level of cheating to ensure Ohio goes Republican. This projection is as feckless and vapid as when the Kerry campaign in 2004 try to promote the same canard - but entirely consistent with someone who defines his journalistic integrity around, 'Fake, but accurate'.
CBS News / Quinnipiac released this morning their latest poll from Ohio - taken entirely after the 2nd Presidential debate. Their mainline poll number is showing Barack Obama is leading in Ohio 50% to 45%. Many progressive press elements are running with this poll as not only a sign that the Romney momentum is breaking, but the 'firewall' is working. Well, in their perception, the firewall is probably working - but in reality - Mitt Romney's momentum and surge are continuing.
One of the consistencies of this election is that numbers are being cooked - whether they are the jobless / unemployment numbers coming from the Administration itself or the numbers behind so many polls conducted by the mainstream media.
With declining Democrat enthusiasm over the failures of the Obama Administration to fulfill their promises around 'Hope and Change' - something has to be done to encourage the progressive base and discourage the opposition. By making the reelection of the President appear close / inevitable, they hope that opposition enthusiasm and turnout will be suppressed. The same, they also hope, will motivate the progressive base to ensure that they don't lose power - just as their movement was crippled by Carter's incompetence (12 years before a progressive candidate would return to the WH).
Yes, the CBS News / Quinnipiac poll from Ohio is based on a sample that is entirely unrealistic. The party breakdown was D35 / R26 / I34 - a D+9 oversample. In Ohio, they are projecting or trying to model a Republican enthusiasm and turnout that is 5 points lower than it was in 2008 and 11 points lower than it was in the state during the 2010 midterms.
Are we really to believe that since November 2010, the enthusiasm and participation levels of Republicans to replace Barack Obama has dropped 11 points? In Ohio's most populous county, that encompassing Cleveland, Democrat party registrations are down 800,000 - but GOP registrations are down only 80,000 - one tenth of the loss that the Democrat party has experienced. Is that a model that supports a GOP turnout 11 points below 2010?
In 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain in Ohio by 5 points. His key to victory - winning the independent vote by 8 points over McCain. In today's poll, buried within the internals, we see that Mitt Romney is winning the independent vote by 7 points. That's a 15 point swing against Barack Obama by independents.
How does this pass the smell test? We're supposed to believe that after winning Ohio by 5 in 2008, led by winning independents by 8 - that he's still winning Ohio by 5 in 2012 while losing independents by 7? Only with a massive oversample of Democrats can Obama be seen to be winning by 5....and does it fit that Republicans are less enthusiastic today than in 2010 or 2008 - and the Democrats are that much more excited and enthusiastic (even with 800,000 fewer party registrations in the largest county in the state)?
Scratch the surface and look - and what we see is not a 'firewall' state - but a state where Barack Obama is very much in trouble. This also helps explain why he is in growing trouble in other nearby states - Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia....
PPP, the official pollster for the Daily Kos and the SEIU, also has released a poll on a key battleground state with the mainline story being Barack Obama holds a 1 point lead, 49-48, over Mitt Romney in Iowa.
The consistency between this poll and the others remains intact. While trailing by 1 point in the overall number, Mitt Romney is leading among independents by 8 points. Yes, this poll has a D+7 sample that has no relationship to reality. But then it's not intended to model reality - but create and promote a perception over reality.
This is the environment we are in as we enter tonight's last Presidential debate. The mainstream media is creating an illusion to support the candidate they predominately prefer. A member of that media, Bob Schieffer, is going to 'moderate' this debate - and given the track record of the previous debates this cycle as well as his record as a 'moderator' of a Presidential debate in 2008 - we know that he will interject his agenda into the mix with slanted questions and probably biased interjections.
But one thing also remains constant. That despite the browbeating the American people are getting from the mainstream media as they promote their propaganda and agenda - the American people are seeing what they are being fed as propaganda. The credibility of this institution continues to plummet - along with their subscription and viewership numbers. They are making themselves irrelevant.
The American people can see and feel what is happening around them. They can look at their TV screen and see two candidates. They can look at these candidates and know which one is competent and appears Presidential. Which one who is promoting a positive vision for the future as opposed to fear / scaremongering.
As PJ Media's Roger L. Simon writes on his blog this morning about what we are seeing -
Obama’s outrage during the second debate even at being questioned on his response to the terrorist killings is one of the ugliest displays of narcissism I have ever witnessed from a politician and certainly the ugliest if you consider the ramifications of his behavior.
That the mainstream media ignored this reaction is a testament to their enduring pathology. Or perhaps to a secret longing for the divine right of kings.
Tonight - follow the debate along reading Vodkapundits 'Live Drunkblog' of the debate on www.PJMedia.com.
Coming up later this week - my last 'Wargaming the Electoral College' post, showing where we are after the three Presidential and one Vice Presidential debates - and where I predict we will be on November 7th.
Also coming up - an election guide for LA County / California based on the official Sample Ballot.
Today in History
1797 - Andre-Jacques Garnerin climbs aboard a hydrogen balloon, ascends 3,200 feet over Paris, and leaps out - making the first successful parachute jump. His original design did not have a vent at the top of the parachute, so he oscillated wildly as he descended - landing safely half a mile from where he jumped.
1903 - Hired killer and marksman, Tom Horn, is hanged for the alleged murder of 14 year old Willie Nickell, the son of a Wyoming sheep rancher supposedly involved in a dispute with the local Cattleman's Association which Horn worked for as a hired gun.
1934 - Wanted fugitive, Charles 'Pretty Boy' Floyd is shot to death in an Ohio cornfield after engaging in a gunfight with FBI officers. Floyd was suspected as being a mastermind of the Kansas City Massacre, where the 4 police officers were shot to death in a train station. As with other notorious criminals of the era (Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde) some thought of Floyd as a 'Robin Hood' type character - but Floyd was a violent criminal ready to kill.
1957 - Thirteen US military members in South Vietnam become the first US casualties in the renewed battle in Indochina as they are injured in three terror bombings in Saigon, South Vietnam.
1962 - In a televised address to the American people, President John F. Kennedy announced that the US would be establishing a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent the USSR from shipping additional offensive nuclear armed missiles to the island nation. Kennedy would also warn that any missile launch from Cuba would be seen as an act of war by the USSR against the United States and respond in kind by launching US nuclear armed missiles. With this, the world was at the edge of nuclear war between the US and USSR.