Nate Silver: "President Obama's chances of winning the Electoral College were 64.8 percent as of Tuesday's FiveThirtyEight forecast, down slightly from 66.0 percent on Monday.... Tuesday featured an interesting set of surveys, however. While Mr. Obama's numbers were middling on the whole, one set of them implied that the polls may be inclined to overstate the effect of events like the party conventions and the debates."
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney has taken a six-point lead over President Obama in the latest Gallup national tracking poll -- his biggest lead to date and the first time he has led outside the margin of error. The latest seven-day tracking poll of likely voters shows Romney at 51 percent and Obama at 45 percent, up from 50-46 on Tuesday and 49-47 on Monday." ...
... Markos Moulitsas: "Romney's entire advantage in this poll comes from a massive lead in the South. Now sure, some of that may be Florida, but the state-level polling certainly doesn't show that. So Romney is driving up big margins in Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other such presidentially irrelevant states? Good for him! I'm sure that'll be cold comfort as he loses the states that actually matter in the Midwest and West." Thanks to Dave S. for the link.
Nielsen: "An estimated 65.6 million people tuned in to watch the second debate between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday, October 16."
Steve Benen: "For voters who are still paying attention and who consider the economy an important election issue, the Romney/Ryan argument that the economy's getting worse is now literally unbelievable.... With every new report showing better and better economic news, the president will be missing a major opportunity if he fails to take advantage of the news: after inheriting the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the president took the lead in saving the nation. Nearly four years after taking office, by literally every relevant metric, the nation's economy is stronger and more secure than it was when he started." ...
... Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider: "This is really the big story of the moment.... New housing starts are shooting straight up. Retail sales growth: re-accelerating. The Unemployment Rate: Collapsing. And car sales are surging. Revolving consumer credit: back to growth. Gallup Economic Confidence is the best since May. Consumer discretionary stocks surging towards all-time highs. Homebuilder stocks highest since 2007. Wal-Mart has finally busted out, and surged past its 2000 high." With charts to prove it all. Via Greg Sargent.
Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama and Mitt Romney took to the road on Wednesday to capitalize on their fiery second debate, with Mr. Obama's muscular performance recharging supporters in the state that propelled him to the presidency in 2008." ...
... Landler again: "For all the relief among President Obama's aides over his energetic performance during the presidential debate on Tuesday night, there was less exuberance. After his listless showing in the first debate, Mr. Obama's aides believe the second debate essentially reset the race to where they long expected it to be: the president holding a narrow lead in enough battleground states that they hope he will eke out victory over Mitt Romney."
Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "The battle for women's votes helped shape Tuesday night's debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, pushing issues such as equal pay for women and access to contraception to the forefront of the closely fought race."
Michael Shear of the New York Times: "As the debate on Tuesday made clear, neither campaign is taking the support of women for granted. Mr. Obama, in particular, seemed eager to make the case for his policies -- and to criticize Mr. Romney's -- after having been criticized by many high-profile women for not doing so in the debate two weeks ago in Denver."
Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Mitt Romney’s eldest son [Tagg] joked in a radio interview that he wanted to 'take a swing' at President Barack Obama after Obama called his father a liar. 'Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him,' Tagg said, laughing. 'But you know you can't do that because, well, first because there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that's the nature of the process.'" ...
... CW: oh, wait, I thought of another reason: Barack Obama is POTUS. You can't "respect the office" if you "take a swing at" the man. Or even say you'd like to take a swing at the man. Let's be clear here. Tagg Romney is not a child. He is 42 years old -- old enough to be POTUS, as a matter of fact. He is not Billy Carter. He is a Harvard MBA (I can't tell you how Dubya, Willard & Tagg have lowered the prestige of a Harvard MBA), a businessman. He has worked on three of his father's campaign & is an official campaign advisor. Now ask yourself if there would be an uproar on the right if David Plouffe (roughly Tagg's age) went on the radio & made a public statement that the only thing keeping him from decking Romney was his Secret Service detail. P.S. Obama did not use the word "liar," even though it would have been appropriate to do so. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...
... AND, speaking of that photogenic Romney clan, here's son Josh at Wednesday's debate. A friend heartily recommends that you turn to Rebecca Schoenkopf of Wonkette to learn more about Josh:
(Thanks to Tastefully Offensive for the pic & caption.)
I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years. -- Mitt Romney, during the town-hall debate
Liar, liar, liar, liar. (Or something like that.) -- Dana Milbank
New York Times Editors: "On Tuesday night, [Mitt Romney] bumbled his way through a cringe-inducing attempt to graft what he thinks should be 2012 talking points onto his 1952 sensibility.... [Romney said] 'Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.' Perhaps Mr. Romney forgot that he vetoed a bill as Massachusetts governor in 2005 that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception, or that he supported an amendment this year that would have allowed any business to opt out of the contraceptive mandate, or that he has said he would support a state constitutional amendment that would declare that life begins at conception -- potentially making some kinds of contraceptives illegal." ...
... Digby: "Romney made a great case for affirmative action, something his party adamantly opposes. But it's so common sense that he could say it in the debate and nobody even noticed. Not even Fox."
... Dancing the Shuffle with Lilly Ledbetter. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "Had Mitt Romney been president in 2009, he would not have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, [Ed Gillespie,] a top adviser to the Republican nominee, told The Huffington Post Tuesday night. Now that the law has been passed, Romney has no plans to get rid of it..., Gillespie added. But Romney didn't support it while it made its way through Congress.... Hours after this story was published, the Romney campaign sent a statement from Gillespie walking back the comments he had made the night before. 'I was wrong when I said last night Governor Romney opposed the Lily Ledbetter act,' the statement read. 'He never weighed in on it. As President, he would not seek to repeal it.'"
E. J. Dionne: "Under pressure this time..., [Mitt Romney] displayed his least attractive sides. He engaged in pointless on-stage litigation of the debate rules. He repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for both the president and Candy Crowley, the moderator. And Romney was just plain querulous when anyone dared question him about the gaping holes in his tax and budget plans.... The most instructive contrast between Debate I and Debate II was the extent to which Romney's ideas crumbled at the slightest contact with challenge. Romney and Paul Ryan are erecting a Potemkin village designed to survive only until the polls close on Nov. 6."
Jon Stewart has three good segments on the debate, all of which you can view here. (He also interviews Nate Silver.) This is my favorite of the three; it reminds me of the Washington Post story of young Mittster's leading a severely nearsighted high school teacher into a closed door -- because he thought that was really funny. Sometimes, o lord, there is poetic justice, even if ye taketh decades to exact it:
... Stephen Colbert is truly excellent, too.
Dana Milbank: "Key to the success of Romney's Etch a Sketch movement has been the cooperation of conservatives, who have been unusually docile in the face of the candidate's heresies: pledging not to enact a tax cut that adds to the deficit, promising not to decrease the share of taxes paid by the wealthy, vowing not to slash education funding, praising financial regulations, insisting that he would make health insurers cover preexisting conditions and disavowing his earlier claim that 47 percent of Americans are parasites living off of the government.... It has been a rare outbreak of common sense in the conservative movement. Romney should enjoy it while it lasts."
"Binders, Keepers." David Brooks & Gail Collins have a conversation about the conversation Tuesday night. Collins ends it with, "Anybody who's wondering whether a second term could be better than the first can look at Obama's performance in the second debate and take heart." ...
... Collins again: "When it comes to the ever-evolving identity of Mitt Romney, we tend to think of Massachusetts Mitt as the progressive, empathetic version. But there were actually several different Bay State incarnations. The one who got elected governor wanted to ban assault rifles, close down polluting power plants and had emotional memories of a relative who died from an illegal abortion. About halfway through the term, that guy began to evaporate. He was replaced by a Presidential Prospect Mitt who opposed stem cell research, refused to cooperate with other governors on clean air initiatives and lost interest in the binder."
"Why Romney Screwed up the Libya Question." Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "The facts surrounding the Benghazi attack are damning enough on their own. But thanks to their penchant for cherry-picking information, the GOP left their presidential nominee on stage with his mouth agape, struggling to understand how something he knew for a fact wasn't a fact at all." ...
... Candy Crowley defends her remarks re: Libya/"acts of terror":
... Scott Shane of the New York Times provides a time line on who said what when about the terror attack in Benghazi.
Nicholas Kristof's college roommate Scott Androes was uninsured and died of treatable illness. "Let's pray that this presidential election will be a milestone in bringing to an end this squandering of American lives, including [Scott's] your own."
** Tim Noah of The New Republic writes an absolutely fascinating history of the term "trickle-down government," a term Romney has employed in both presidential debates.
Jason Zengerle interviews David Axelrod for GQ -- with annotations.
AND Jim Naureckas of FAIR is totally energized by Tom Friedman's helpful column on the debate. Naureckas's colum is titled "Judging Candidates on Their Resemblance to Thomas Friedman. ...
... PLUS Dean Baker likes to play "The How Many Wrong Statements Can You Find In Thomas Friedman's Column Game."
John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "Maryland voters are leaning toward legalizing same-sex marriage next month, something that has never happened at the ballot box anywhere in the nation, a new Washington Post poll finds."
Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "President Obama is prepared to veto legislation to block year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, collectively known as the 'fiscal cliff,' unless Republicans bow to his demand to raise tax rates for the wealthy, administration officials said. Freed from the political and economic constraints that have tied his hands in the past, Obama is ready to play hardball with Republicans, who have so far successfully resisted a deal to tame the debt that includes higher taxes, Obama's allies say."
Linda Greenhouse: in an affirmative action case, the conservatives on the Supreme Court embarrass themselves by asking trivial, taunting, stupid questions.
Jim Fallows takes photos inside the FoxConn campus in Southern China.
CW: Matt Harding is my hero. Thanks to contributor Dan for the link:
New York Times: "The Bangladeshi man who was arrested Wednesday on charges that he plotted to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had an accomplice [named Howard Willie Carter II] in San Diego, who was arrested later on unrelated child-pornography charges, a law enforcement official said on Thursday."
Reuters: "Google's ... quarterly results were released by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hours ahead of schedule. Earnings were far less than analysts expected and Google shares immediately plunged as much as 10.5 percent, knocking $26 billion off its market capitalization...."
Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald: "Libyan authorities have named Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the Benghazi-based Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, as a commander in the attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens last month." ...
... New York Times Update: "Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel.... No authority has even questioned him about the attack, he said, and he has no plans to go into hiding...."
AP: "Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months. The increase represents a rebound from the previous week's sharp drop. Both swings were largely due to technical factors."
AP: "One of the two Taliban militants suspected of attacking a teenage girl activist was detained by the Pakistani military in 2009 but subsequently released, intelligence officials said Thursday. Malala Yousufzai, 14, was shot and critically wounded on Oct. 9 as she headed home from school in the northwest Swat Valley. The Taliban said they targeted Malala, a fierce advocate for girls' education, because she promoted 'Western thinking' and was critical of the militant group."
AP: "Confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America on men they suspected of child sex abuse are set to be released after a two-year-long court battle. The anticipated release of the files on Thursday by Portland attorney Kelly Clark will reveal 20,000 pages of documents the Scouts kept on men inside -- and in some cases outside -- the organization believed to have committed acts of abuse." ...
... Update: "An array of local authorities -- police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and town Boy Scout leaders among them -- quietly shielded scoutmasters and others who allegedly molested children, according to a newly opened trove of confidential files compiled from 1959 to1985.... As detailed in 14,500 pages of secret 'perversion files' released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court, their maneuvers protected suspected sexual predators while victims suffered in silence."