Romney Campaign Exudes Confidence

Mitt Romney’s campaign was noticeably more confident on Thursday, a day after the Republican candidate was widely judged to have beaten President Obama in the first presidential debate.

Aides and surrogates seemed invigorated by Romney's performance, and were more combative in public.

“Romney really breathed new life into his campaign, that’s for sure — it's too bad we didn't see this Romney sooner because he could have been leading in the polls,” said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. “This was the Massachusetts moderate that Democrats feared, and he showed that he was a principled but practical conservative willing to reach across party lines.”

Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill

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Denver Debate Was a Game-Changing Win For Romney

Tingling feeling? Not so much for Chris Matthews. The MSNBC commentator was like a parent whose kid brought home a bad report card after President Obama delivered a lackluster performance in the first of the three presidential debates last night in Denver.

"Where was Obama tonight," asked Matthews, who has carried the president's water--with a tingling feeling up his leg--for going on five years now. "What was he doing?"

What he was doing was letting his challenger back in the race. The fading Mitt Romney, the one who can't get out of his own way, whose campaign seemed to be reeling, particularly in battleground states, is no more. Today, he is surging, and the wind is clearly at his back.

Make no mistake, this was a game-changer. CNN said 67 percent of those who watched thought challenger Mitt Romney won--the highest percentage since the question was first asked in 1984. He won among independents and the undecided. On taxes, the economy, the budget deficit, and the reach of government, he outperformed the president by double-digit margins.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Presidential Debate: Mitt Romney Injects New Life In His Campaign

The final month of the 2012 presidential race just got more interesting.

By turning in a stronger debate performance than President Obama – the instant post-game consensus of  Republicans, Democrats, and voters themselves – GOP nominee Mitt Romney has injected new life into a campaign that had nearly been given up for dead, despite only a slim deficit in polls.

Indeed, Romney had to do well in Wednesday’s debate, or the half-written obituaries on his campaign would likely have been completed. Perhaps Romney’s biggest regret will be that the debates started so late in the campaign. Early voting has already started in some states, including Ohio, arguably the most crucial battleground in the country, which opened its polls on Tuesday. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.

“It's too bad that voters didn't see this Romney sooner,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, suggesting that the former governor showed glimpses of the "reasonable, practical" Massachusetts moderate whom Democrats feared. “The only person who had a worse night than President Obama was Sesame Street's Big Bird.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor 

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Obama Vs. Romney: Who Won (In Denver)?

In Denver, Mitt Romney commanded the debate and showed glimpses of the reasonable, practical Massachusetts moderate who Democrats feared. If he keeps this up, there will be a new occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come 2013. It's just too bad that voters didn't see this Romney sooner.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Ford O'Connell Analyzes The First Presidential Debate At Reuters TV

Darrell West, vice-president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution and Republican strategist Ford O'Connell find the peaks and valleys in the first of three debates between President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

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Ranking The Battleground States From Mitt Romney's Perspective

From NBC's FirstRead:

Given our new NBC/WSJ/Marist polls of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia -- as well as our other state polls over the past few weeks -- here are Romney’s best opportunities to win a battleground (in order): NC, FL, CO, NV, VA, WI, IA, NH, and OH. With Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio all increasingly heading to Obama’s column, that puts the president at 265 electoral votes. As a result, it means that Romney must run the table on the remaining states (NC, FL, CO, NV, VA, WI) to get to 270. And it raises the question, especially if Romney is unable to change the race tonight: Does Romney consider pulling out of Ohio with its size and all of its media markets, to put those resources in the remaining states? It’s a question that Boston has to be pondering right now. By the way, out of all of our new state polls (of FL, OH, and VA), Romney appears to be the best shape in Florida – not only by margin (down one point), but also in Romney’s fav/unfav (46%-43%) and Obama’s job approval (48%).

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Poll: 2012 Presidential Race Is A Dead Heat Among Likely Voters

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Poll: 53% See Election As Referendum on Obama’s Agenda

From Rasmussen Reports:

Most voters view this year’s election as a referendum on the Obama presidency rather than one on his Republican challenger’s plans for the future. But independent voters don’t believe that as strongly as GOP voters and Democrats do.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53% of Likely U.S. Voters consider this election as a referendum on President Obama’s agenda. Only 25% regard it as more about Mitt Romney’s agenda, but nearly as many voters (21%) are undecided.

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Romney Increases Efforts To Win Over Hispanic Voters

Mitt Romney is ramping up his outreach to Hispanic voters, softening his rhetoric on undocumented immigrants and making a major investment in Spanish-language media.

The renewed push — focused on the key swing states of Colorado, Nevada and Florida — comes as polls show President Obama increasing his already-large nationwide lead over Romney with Hispanic voters, although swing-state polls of Latinos offer a more inconclusive picture.

Republicans with an eye on the fast-growing Hispanic population commended Romney’s comments and his campaign’s renewed focus, though some worry they’re coming too late.

“It’s the right move; they’re doing the right things. I just wish they had been doing them earlier,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

Read more from Cameron Joseph at The Hill

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First Presidential Debate Often Helps Challenger In Polls

From Nate Silver at The New York Times:

Conventional wisdom holds that the first presidential debate offers an especially good opportunity for the challenging candidate, who for the first time gets to stand on a literal public stage, and a proverbial level playing field, with the incumbent president.

As much as we like to debunk the conventional wisdom at FiveThirtyEight, this hypothesis has the ring of empirical truth to it. There are no guarantees for Mitt Romney, and if he makes gains in the polls following Wednesday night’s debate in Denver, they will probably be fairly modest. But if historical precedent is any guide, he is more likely than not to see his standing improve at least some.

This analysis will be quite simple: I’ve made a comparison of the polls just before and just after the presidential debate in years dating back to 1976.

[O]n average, the challenging-party candidate gained a net of one and a half percentage points on the incumbent-party candidate.

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Analysis & Political Strategy