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The Eyes Have It (October 5, 2012, 11:40 AM)

A Smart Politics analysis of the first presidential debate finds that President Obama blinked at a rate of 70.8 times per minute while speaking and tallied 1,000 more blinks than Mitt Romney during the broadcast. Romney blinked at a rate of 52.8 per minute.
"Various external factors can contribute to elevated blinking rates, such as wearing contacts or, in this case, perhaps the bright lights of the staged televised event. And, of course, some individuals may experience an increased rate simply due to nerves or being placed in an uncomfortable situation."

The Daily reports that Boston College psychophysiologist Joseph Tecce has found that since 1980, the candidate who blinks the least during the televised debates has gone on to win the popular vote.

Quote of the Day (October 5, 2012, 11:20 AM)

"Muslim Lier"

-- Graffiti vandalism on an Obama campaign building in Iowa, reports the Des Moines Register.

Latest Swing State Polls (October 5, 2012, 11:14 AM)

Here are the latest polls from the battleground states, updated as need throughout the day:

Ohio: Romney 47%, Obama 46% (We Ask America)

Ohio: Obama 50%, Romney 49% (Rasmussen)

Florida: Romney 49%, Obama 46% (We Ask America)

Virginia: Romney 49%, Obama 48% (Rasmussen)

Virginia: Romney 48%, Obama 45% (We Ask America)

Biden Turns Attack Dog (October 5, 2012, 11:08 AM)

A day after President Obama delivered a lackluster debate performance, Vice President Joe Biden went on the attack "delivering zinger after zinger" against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, ABC News reports.

Said Biden: "It's bad enough that Gov. Romney won't release the details of his tax returns. Now he won't even release the details of what he plans on doing about your taxes. Seriously. last night the governor walked away from the centerpiece of his economic plan."

Did the Debate Hurt Obama? (October 5, 2012, 11:00 AM)

Although everyone wants to see if President Obama's weak performance in Wednesday's debate eroded his lead, we'll have to wait until next week for reliable polling data.

First Read: "And trust us: They will be PLENTY of polls for everyone to see. But realistically, the first polls you should trust that will absorb the ENTIRE impact of the debate and post-debate are the runs released no sooner than Tuesday... You want surveys that were actually in the field Sunday and Monday."

Charlie Cook: "It would take a very consequential event to change the trajectory of this race. Time will tell whether Romney's strong debate performance on Wednesday night was the event that he needed -- particularly in swing states such as Ohio. But at least he energized his supporters and sent a clear message that the race is not over."

What Obama Didn't Say (October 5, 2012, 10:49 AM)

Ron Brownstein: "President Obama didn't have many good moments in this week's first presidential debate. But it was telling that the few came when he was raising objections to Mitt Romney's tax, spending, and Medicare plans. The president had much less to say about his own ideas for the next four years. In that way, the debate spotlighted the biggest hole in Obama's reelection effort: the paucity of specifics he has offered about his second-term agenda."

The $5 Trillion Question (October 5, 2012, 10:31 AM)

Mitt Romney insisted during the first presidential debate that he does support a $5 trillion tax cut.

First Read: "But here's the problem for the Romney campaign: We know the math how you get to just about $5 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. It starts with reducing tax rates across the board by 20%, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax and erasing the federal estate tax. Together, that comes to $450-$480 billion by 2015. You do that over 10 years (standard budget estimations), and you get about $5 trillion. But what we don't know is the math of how you offset the nearly $500 billion per year as Romney has pledged, because the Romney campaign has yet to provide any specifics about what he would cut."

"The math isn't just hard; it becomes nearly impossible (at least politically) once you account for the pledge handcuffs. The Romney campaign is hoping to make it until November without having to provide its own straw man beyond, 'that's not true.' The downside of getting the real second look the campaign wants is that they will need to provide some answers to this $5 trillion question."

Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.8% (October 5, 2012, 10:04 AM)

The U.S. economy added 114,000 jobs in September while the unemployment rate fell to 7.8%.

First Read: "We continue to see these monthly jobs numbers have very little impact on the public. Yet they have had a bigger impact on the tone of the political coverage in a 24- to 48-hour period, and that helps the Obama campaign change the subject from Wednesday night's debate. In addition, do not underestimate the psychological impact of the unemployment rate falling BELOW 8%. It's been an anchor around the president's leg politically for years, not months."

Wonk Wire has a roundup of reactions.

History Finds it's Tough to Build on First Debate Win (October 5, 2012, 08:29 AM)

Mitt Romney's "widely praised performance in the first presidential debate gave his campaign a boost. History shows these kinds of gains, especially by a challenger, are often fleeting," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Historians have noted this recurring phenomenon in presidential debates: Incumbent presidents, whether articulate or otherwise, often fare poorly in their first encounter with challengers, in part because their debating skills are rusty. After nearly four years in the Oval Office, presidents are accustomed to more deference than this type of blunt face-off. For challengers, meanwhile, the first appearance onstage with a president tends to enhance their stature."

Romney Still Must Prove Debate was Turning Point (October 5, 2012, 08:17 AM)

"Mitt Romney's challenge, with less than five weeks until Election Day, is to convince voters that the steady, decisive, in-command competitor who showed up for the first presidential debate is the real Mitt Romney," the Washington Post reports.

"The Romney whom viewers saw next to President Obama on Wednesday night is not the candidate they've come to know through many months of attack ads and replayed gaffes."

New York Times: "Mr. Romney's senior aides warned staff members and donors that the race was hardly won. But they said the debate reversed the sagging morale of volunteers and contributors and dispelled what had been a growing notion that the race was slipping away from Mr. Romney."

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