The first debate on Oct. 3 looms large as Mitt Romney's last, best chance at turning the presidential race around. Here are a few ways he might do it.
How crucial will next week's presidential debate be for Mitt Romney? Well, there seems to be near-universal consensus that it represents his last, best shot at turning around the race. Amazingly, it isn't just pundits saying this – but also Mr. Romney’s own advisers, who, rather than lowering expectations, have been telling reporters that the debate will, indeed, shake things up, while predicting a win for their candidate. (How's that for pressure?)
Of course, historical evidence shows that debates seldom affect the outcome of presidential elections. Even the most memorable debate moments wound up having little to no impact on the polls.
On the other hand, as Democratic strategist Bob Shrum points out in The Daily Beast, history also shows that "in the first debate, against an incumbent president, a challenger tends to win." In fact, it's happened five of the past six times (the exception being Bob Dole, who failed to score a win against President Bill Clinton).
If Romney can win his first debate against President Obama and move the polls even a point or two back in his direction, it would certainly help. So what does Romney need to do when he faces off against the president on Oct. 3? Here’s a quick Decoder cheat sheet: