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McMahon Just Ahead in Connecticut (October 4, 2012, 11:07 AM)

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Linda McMahon (R) just ahead of Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in their U.S. Senate race, 48% to 47%.

Said pollster Douglas Schwartz: "McMahon voters are much more likely to say they are very enthusiastic about their choice than Murphy voters, by about 2-1. While the horserace has barely changed, the images of both candidates have declined since August, as the campaign attacks have increased. Murphy's negatives are up 10 points and McMahon's are up 6 points. McMahon has done a good job defining Murphy, who was not well known statewide, in a negative way."


Who Wins the Post-Debate? (October 4, 2012, 10:58 AM)

First Read: "If Romney won the instant reactions from last night's debate, it is more than possible that the Obama camp can win the next 24 hours. Why? Because Romney said several things that could make life difficult for him today or in the next debate."

"First, Romney declared, 'I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.' But in addition to supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are skewed heavily to the wealthy, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center says that Romney's tax plan would give the Top 0.1% an average tax cut of more than $246,000. Next, he stated that "there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit." While he has said his plan will be paid for, he's yet to lay out any SPECIFICS on how he'll pay for it. Romney also said, 'I'm not going to cut education funding. I don't have any plan to cut education funding.' But the Ryan budget plan, which Romney has said he'd sign into law, leads to long-term spending reductions in education. And Romney also didn't disagree with the description that his Medicare plan would consist of 'vouchers' for future retirees."

"Winning a debate is always a two-part deal -- the night itself, and then the aftermath. This is now an opportunity for Team Obama and a challenge for Team Romney."


More Reaction to the First Presidential Debate (October 4, 2012, 06:00 AM)

I concluded Obama played rope-a-dope but missed a big opportunity. A CBS News poll found Romney won, 46% to 22%, while a CNN poll found a similar verdict for Romney, 67% to 25%.

Here are some other reactions:

Andrew Sullivan: "Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama's meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look."

Glenn Reynolds: "Romney was channeling Reagan. Obama was channeling Biden."

James Fallows: "If you had the sound turned off, Romney looked calm and affable through more of the debate than Obama did, and the incumbent president more often looked peeved. Romney's default expression, whether genuine or forced, was a kind of smile; Obama's, a kind of scowl. I can understand why Obama would feel exasperated by these claims and arguments. Every president is exasperated by what he considers facile claims about what he knows to be impossibly knotty problems. But he let it show."

Brad Phillips: "This debate is an easy one to call: Romney won in a landslide, while Obama appeared flatfooted, tired, and somewhat detached."

Nate Silver: "My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kick a field goal, perhaps not bringing the race to draw, but setting himself up in such a way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount."


Reaction to the First Presidential Debate (October 3, 2012, 11:30 PM)

President Obama spent much of the debate acting like he was in trouble because he didn't take his wife out on their 20th wedding anniversary. He was bored and clearly wanted to be someplace else.

Mitt Romney did considerably better and was more aggressive but never really landed a big punch. He hit Obama regularly but the president played rope-a-dope and just waited for the bell to ring.

Romney's major misstep in this debate -- and in this campaign -- was being factually untrue about his plans and denying his own record. But Obama didn't push back very hard at all.

Jim Lehrer mostly stayed out of the way which allowed a much more substantive debate than we've seen in the past. He'll take a lot of criticism for this approach, but the moderator should be invisible in a good debate.

Overall, Romney was better prepared, stayed on message and was even more personable than the president. Obama missed a big chance tonight. While the fact checkers may ultimately side with the president in the end, Romney did a better job. His performance should calm many Republicans who have doubted him in recent weeks.


First Presidential Debate (October 3, 2012, 09:50 PM)

The first presidential debate will be streamed live on CNN and YouTube.

We'll be back later with reaction.


Digital Guide to the Debates (October 3, 2012, 08:00 PM)

Bringing a computer to tonight's presidential debate? Digital Trends lets you know where to watch, who to follow, and how to get in on the action.


Warren Maintains Lead in Massachusetts (October 3, 2012, 07:17 PM)

A new Mass Insight poll in Massachusetts finds that Elizabeth Warren (D) is maintaining the edge on Sen. Scott Brown (R), 48% to 44%.

Key finding: "Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said that Massachusetts needs to elect a Democrat to help prevent the Senate from falling under control of the national Republican Party."


Close Senate Race in Arizona (October 3, 2012, 07:00 PM)

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Arizona finds Richard Carmona (D) leading Rep. Jeff Flake (R) in the U.S. Senate race by two points, 45% to 43%.

In the presidential race, Mitt Romney holds a nine point lead over President Obama, 53% to 44%. Other recent polls have found Obama within striking distance.


8 Top Debate Moments from Obama and Romney (October 3, 2012, 05:05 PM)

The Week highlights "four shining, and not so shining, moments in each candidate's debating past."


Will Obama Go for the Knockout or Play it Safe? (October 3, 2012, 04:29 PM)

David Gergen notes that while conventional wisdom suggests President Obama "can simply go for caution" in tonight's debate, he argues the president "ought to be pressing for a victory, too."

"In some polls over recent weeks, especially from key states, the president has now opened up a second possible path to re-election. For a long time, his campaign advisers have assumed that he would win but that his margin of victory would be narrow -- less than three points. Even now, his advisers -- even as they are quietly confident about the ultimate outcome -- are running scared, assuming the race will likely close significantly in the final weeks."

"But it is becoming apparent there is another possibility: Contrary to much conventional wisdom, Obama may actually be able to bust open this race, sweeping almost every state he won four years ago and rolling up a victory margin of perhaps five points or more."


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