Last night, President Obama tried to reassure his semi-panicked Democratic fellows that, despite his ghastly debate performance, “the fundamentals of this race haven’t changed” — which, actually, is kind of weirdly true. When I think “fundamentals,” I think unemployment, economic growth, federal budget, etcetera, all of which have remained mind-numbingly horrible during the president’s tenure. What did change after the debate, however, was the Obama campaign’s ability to gloss over and relentlessly spin those fundamentals. I thought that when Barack Obama’s populist, soak-the-rich, big-government messaging finally met Mitt Romney’s free-enterprise message face-to-face, without any outside noise, the content of Obama’s platform looked downright feeble.
According to subsequent polls, voters seemed to be thinking along those lines, too — not that the Obama campaign would ever admit to that.
Cutter: I think that, if you look at the recent polls, the race is roughly the same as where it was before the debate. I think that Romney made modest gains, there’s no doubt about that. But the race is essentially the same as it was… [crosstalk]
Scarborough: Stephanie, there is a collective roar from the far right and the far left on the set… That’s nice spinning, but I mean, the race is tight. It’s very tight…
Cutter: But Joe, look at what’s been happening in Ohio, there’s been very little movement. In Florida, very little movement. Virginia, there’s been modest movement. But the race is essentially the same as where it was, if not before the debate, then before the conventions. And what I was trying to say, is that this election — we’ve always said, this election is going to come down to the wire.
It is true that the Obama camp has maintained that it’s going to be a very close election no matter what (close races make for far better fundraising opportunities than blowouts, don’t you know), but as the aghast MSNBC panel expressed in the clip, there’s really no doubt that this is not quite the same race as it was. Romney has picked up pretty serious gains nationally, among independents, across battleground states, and in his favorability ratings — and there definitely has been significant movement across Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. President Obama’s surefire electoral advantage is no more, and Romney has risen to new heights in the national polls; but hey, maybe Joe Biden can turn this ship around, yeah?