Despite all the hand-wringing of the past week and a half (including quite a bit of my own), I remain optimistic about President Obama's prospects for reelection for one major reason.
It appears that the chances of Democrats actually gaining seats in the Senate are now greater than the chances of the Republicans taking over. And that trend has continued even during this post-debate Romney surge.
I find it hard to believe that an electorate itching to vote for Democratic senate candidates will simultaneously turn its back on our Democratic president.
Put another way: How many Kaine/Romney voters are really out there?
Nate Silver posted a blog entry about the Senate prospects this morning, saying "there is little sign, however, that Mr. Romney’s rebound has translated into races for the Senate."
I believe that's because all of Romney's "gains" are tied to voter enthusiasm after the debate -- positive enthusiasm for Republicans, negative enthusiasm for Democrats.
The debate was the first good news for the Romney campaign in over a month and it was entirely unexpected. That amped up its news value and made it the equivalent of a pitcher of ice water for a party that had spent weeks in the desert.
On the flip side, Democrats were high on our candidate's success, going to sleep at night with visions of flipping Arizona and Texas, and so the debate felt like a two-by-four to the face.
That dynamic showed up immediately in the polls and is taking a little while to dissipate (particularly given the flood of right-leaning pollsters who were thrilled to join the conversation when they saw a chance to further the narrative).
But polls are snapshots, and the underlying fundamentals remain. We won the battle for new registrations, we are winning in the early vote, and we have the broader, stronger GOTV operation.
The most important thing right now is that we don't lose sight of those advantages but instead work hard to bolster them. Victory is ahead... it's just hard to see through all the smoke generated by one nasty bump in the road.
But check out those Senate numbers, and tell me which party you think is winning.