Sabermetricians, the stat fiends who crunch baseball numbers like political junkies read crosstabs, differ over whether momentum exists in baseball, though Nationals fans are hoping it does.
But momentum undeniably exists in politics, and feeds off itself. Momentum drives coverage, attracts money, energizes supporters, and begets more momentum.
The Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket had the wind, blown forcefully by a nearly inert President Obama in last week’s debate, at its back heading into Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate. Vice President Joe Biden’s assignment was to reverse, or at least stymie, that trend.
What Biden did accomplish, with forceful answers and a glut of Republican-infuriating smiling and laughing, was to convince despairing Democrats to put down the hemlock and back away from the ledge. It’s less clear how Biden’s performance will play among independents. But Biden gave Democrats the antidote to the boss’s flat showing last week.
The numbers have been going Romney’s way. And vice-presidential debates don’t have the impact that the ticket-toppers do. But if the momentum stays on the Republican side, Democrats won’t be able to blame Biden for lack of trying.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Biden Clears Obama's Low Bar in Debate with Ryan
[National Journal, 10/11/12] Joe Biden’s debate performance easily cleared the low bar set by his boss: He was aggressive, attentive and in many ways effective pushing President Obama’s agenda, writes National Journal’s Ron Fournier. But he was also sarcastic and condescending – a stylistic blemish against workmanlike rival Paul Ryan.
Washington Veterans Pull No Punches in Vice-Presidential Debate
[Washington Post, 10/11/12] Both Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan had their game faces on during their one and only head-to-head matchup. Ryan said attack in Libya showed the “unraveling” of Obama’s foreign policy, while Biden called Ryan’s rhetoric “bluster” and “loose talk.”
Fact Checking the Vice Presidential Debate
[National Journal, 10/11/12] Biden’s math on the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy is generally sound, while his insistence that “We did not know” that the Benghazi consulate asked for more security before it was attacked last month is more shaky.
‘A Bunch of Malarkey’: Biden and Ryan Match Up
[Associated Press, 10/11/12] After last week’s more genial presidential debate, Biden and Romney went after each other aggressively Thursday night. Both candidates struck combative tones and directly challenged each other’s assertions often.
Biden Savages Ryan on’47 Percent’
[Politico, 10/11/12] Though Obama failed to mention them, Biden took the first opportunity to bring up Romney’s 47 percent comments in his debate performance, saying his parents fall into the group of American derided by Romney. Ryan compared Romney’s leaked comments to Biden’s many gaffes.
Romney Sharply Criticizes Obama on Libya Attack
[New York Times, 10/11/12] Romney stepped up criticism of Obama over last month’s fatal attacks in Benghazi. “President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit this was a terrorist attack,’’ Romney said at a rally.
Fact Check: Ryan Misrepresents Effect of His Medicare Plan
[Los Angeles Times, 10/11/12] Despite Ryan’s claims on Thursday night, Romney’s Medicare plan would not preserve the Medicare benefits currently available to seniors.
Obama Campaign Memo: On The Real Metrics, We're Winning
[Huffington Post, 10/11/12] The Obama campaign released a memo on Thursday touting its advantage over the Romney campaign with voter registration in several key states—2.41 million more in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Internet Is Pumped for Paul Ryan Workout Photos
[Mashable, 10/11/12] Hours after TIME released old photos of Paul Ryan exercising, they went viral. From new memes to .gifs to dating profiles, the muscular vice presidential nominee has hit new Internet status.
The Vice Presidential Debate in 5 Charts
[Washington Post, 10/11/12] From historic vice presidential debate ratings to polls noting how voters will think each candidate will perform on Thursday night, The Fix presents six informative charts.
Paul Ryan’s 5 Secret Weapons, From a Reporter Who Followed Him
[Quartz, 10/11/12] While covering the GOP veep candidate. Quartz’s Tim Fernholz learned that Ryan has a tendency to upstage the man in charge, and a tendency to move fast. Above all, he’s a singular communicator for some fairly radical proposals. Fernholz takes a look at how he does it.
Issa Considers Probing Unemployment Numbers
[Huffington Post, 10/11/12] On Fox Business Thursday, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa said he was considering looking into the Labor Department’s estimation of the September unemployment rate, which fell from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.
Polls Show Small Romney Bump in Swing States
[National Journal, 10/11/12] New battleground-state polls show slight movement toward Romney in five of the states that could prove pivotal in the battle for the White House: Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Meanwhile in Michigan and Pennsylvania, new polls show Obama still ahead, but Romney narrowing the gap.
The Obama Mega Donor Who Got Lost In The Crowd
[Talking Points Memo, 10/11/12] Kareem Ahmed is one of only a few dozen Americans to give at least $1 million to super PACs this election cycle. TPM reveals the story behind the biggest Obama donor you’ve never heard of.
On the Trail: The Killer Ticket-Splitters
[National Journal, 10/11/12] The voters who will determine control of the Senate this year are the voters who are already firmly in Obama’s or Romney’s camp, NJ’s Reid Wilson writes, but who are open to voting for the opposite party in the Senate race. In some states, such as Massachusetts, the hunt for ticket-splitting voters is more urgent than in others.