Yesterday, I wrote a diary explaining my fear that Obama had really screwed up the election by blowing the debate, allowing polls to creep up for Romney, and headlines to proclaim a Romney comeback, and possibly (if not stopped by better performances or something positive for Obama) an avalanche that undercuts the entire campaign.
Having re-read what I wrote, and after spending a long night reading the thoughts of people I greatly respect (here and elsewhere, right, left and center), I have come to two conclusions.
1. I wasn't wrong that it COULD happen.
2. I was very, very wrong about the CHANCE that it could happen.
One of the main criticisms of what I wrote is that I needlessly jumped to conclusions based on a small sample of polls -- polls that were either skewed toward Romney (bad party ID breakdowns, or lots of old, white southern men, for example) or polls that reflected the Thursday/Friday panic (our side) and jubilation (their side).
I dismissed these concerns as wishful thinking. After all, we see the GOP people do this all the time. They see a poll they don't like and they just toss it aside as if it never happened. I didn't want to go down that road.
But then, more data started coming out, specifically from DK itself. We learned that, for all intents and purposes, Romney got a small, unsustained bounce from the debate. We learned that those couple of days were, so far, the high mark for Romney. And we learned that even then, with everything aligning for Romney, he still couldn't break 50% and he still couldn't win the election.
For my theory's fears to come true, Romney would have had to take the advantage and then create a new floor of support, and then build on that. He did not do that, and the data that has been cited on this site bears that out. The bounce is already receding; the president had a good weekend, and the data will show that very soon.
Ironically, this may be a blessing in disguise. Headline trumpeting Romney will soon reverse, with Obama gaining momentum as the bounce fades further. These headlines will mix with Biden wiping the floor with Ryan (Biden can get feisty and go on the attack in a way Obama can not, both as a personality trait and as the President) to reinforce the pro-Obama narrative as opposed to the current, but fleeting, pro-Romney narrative.
In other words, I was right about the possibilities...I was just wrong about whether or not they'd happen. In light of the data and analysis, it does not appear my worry was warranted. Considering the stakes, I am very, very pleased to have been wrong yesterday.
Now if you'll excuse me, once I remove my foot from my mouth, I have a wonderful serving of crow to eat. Thanks again for a great community that (mostly -- a few people were kind of dicks about it, which is fine) pushes back against excessive worry and reminds all of us -- myself included -- that we're right, we're winning, and we will win.