What it all boils down to… Charlie Cook: “A strong performance in that first debate would have probably closed the sale for Obama. Instead, his lackluster showing shifted a bunch of voters who had seemed to be drifting gradually in his direction back into neutral, with some reversing course and moving into Romney’s column.”
More: “This race is still a challenge for Romney. Although tied nationally in this new NBC/WSJ and most other polling, he still carries a great deal of scar tissue in some of the swing states—most notably, Ohio and Wisconsin, but also Colorado and Iowa. Romney is clearly better situated to win the popular vote than the electoral vote; Obama is much closer than Romney to the magic 270 number in the Electoral College. But this is a horse race, a very close one that can still go either way, and that was not the case before the first debate. The debates—and I would say all three of them—hit a reset button for Romney and put him back into this contest.”
Obama and Romney are on track to raise $2 billion between them.
FLORIDA: Politico: “The Florida county that brought us the hanging chad 12 years ago is in the midst of yet another electoral mess — and the presidential election is still nearly two weeks away.
The problem this time: 27,000 filled-out absentee ballots in Palm Beach County that were misprinted and cannot be read by tabulation machines. County officials are having the results from all those ballots copied onto properly laid-out ballots, with representatives from both the Obama and Romney campaigns present.”
But the Palm Beach Post writes: “After more than a week of bad news about absentee ballots with printing errors and the potential chaos of hand-copying an estimated 27,000 of them, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher on Thursday found something to smile about. ‘We’re caught up,’ an almost giddy Bucher said shortly after 4 p.m. Problems and long days and nights are far from over. But the news means that after four days, teams of temporary workers had copied all of the nearly 8,500 bad ballots that were in the first batch of 15,000 that arrived at the elections office by Monday, and additional ones that continued to stream in this week. Monday was the first day absentee ballots could be opened.”