My Tuesday column outlines the stakes in tonight's debate...
With the exception of a peculiar USA Today/Gallup poll, and as I've been predicting for the last week, the Romney bounce from the first debate has ended and is currently retreating (see Nate Silver's current forecast charts). Historical precedent has illustrated how this happens most of the time (the first 1992 debate is the sole exception), and so it's come as no surprise that it's happening again. Whenever a challenger bests an incumbent in the first debate, there's a bounce and then a dissipation of the bounce, and the incumbent generally wins.
Suffice to say, and with an appropriate degree of melodrama, the future Obama presidency isn't the only thing that hinges on what happens tonight. The president could either fuel Romney's descent while augmenting his own fortunes, or he could re-ignite Romney's prior momentum. If the latter happens, it could be very difficult to avoid either a (tragic) victory for Romney or a very, very long election night.
More importantly, if the president loses the second debate as badly as the first and, subsequently, isn't able to recover enough ground to win the election, it will be seen as a major loss for Keynesian economic policy, not to mention government intervention in health care, Wall Street regulation, student loans, climate, energy and so much more... [continued]