The evidence mounts that Obama's post-Debate-1 poll slip has been a change-point rather than a temporary "bump".
Even as Biden's dominating performance last night helps revive energies in the base and maybe stem the tide, there is work to do on grassroots/GOTV to gain back lost ground and provide Obama's re-election a safety cushion.
But given the narrow playing field and short time remaining, one must be selective.
Many polls (e.g. the famous Pew poll, or today's New Hampshire ARG) indicate that the gender gap in White Middle America is closing. This is not an abstract notion: these are possibly millions of households and social circles, where left-of-center women (esp. in August-September) tentatively held their own against the right-leaning men in their lives (spouses, siblings, colleague, fathers), and are now faltering.
Some have suggested that this is a direct effect of such women seeing Obama apparently unwilling to fight for them in Debate 1. I do not rule this out, but think that the main effect is more indirect and social.
We are social creatures, and are very sensitive to social/emotional pressure from people we care about. I know firsthand from Israel, how many left-leaning people, especially women, are afraid to speak out or even voice to themselves their true qualms about the militaristic, even racist direction their country has taken - because their men in their lives advocate it so forcefully and heap contempt upon those who openly challenge this dogma. The result is a seeming broad national consensus, masking deep doubts and silent dissent inside people's hearts.
Back to Middle America: those "white gender gap women" live in social settings with far more exposure to Fox News than to the Daily Show, let alone Daily Kos. The DNC convention and the 47% video, and the dynamic they had unleashed, were an unfiltered message that gave these women a space to stand up for their inner tendencies.
There was nothing special in Romney's performance on Debate 1 that would have really won these women over in a genuine way. Rather, it was the social dynamic that his stage victory has unleashed, that pulled the rug from under their independent stand and slammed shut, at least temporarily, that window of opportunity into their votes.
Here's my message: I'm afraid it will be very hard to win all of them back, to give them the social/emotional space they need again in the time left. Obama doing things right in Debates 2 and 3, and people going door-to-door and phone-to-phone might win some of them back, but it's an uphill battle.
Instead, there is a similar, very low-hanging fruit among Latino voters. According to Latino Decisions and other polls, the gender gap among Latinos is about as large as anywhere else. Moreover, Latino men are far less inclined to vote than women, making the gender gap even greater. One August or September poll had the combined opinion/turnout Latino gender gap at around 30%!
But this is the reverse, mirror-image situation from "white Middle America"! Here the social setting is generally strongly anti-GOP. Latino women are becoming one
of the most solid, motivated voting bloc for Obama this year.
If grassroots efforts in Latino communities of Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and elsewhere focus on getting the abstaining/undecided/confused among the men of these communities to think harder about this election and what it means for their future - we just might secure these states under the Blue column in November.
I am not Latino, don't live in a swing state, but these are my 2 cents.
Hope this helps... have a great weekend.