Former Gov. Mitt Romney needs Ohio and its 18 precious electoral votes, while President Obama hopes his hefty ad buys blocks his opponent in the Buckeye state where debate watchers took careful notes.
But just today, there were whispers in certain circles that Michigan and Pennsylvania might also be in play.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves because tonight, the President finally showed up, and he wasn't all Smirky Joe Biden about it.
He wants to keep his job, seriously.
But just as seriously, Romney wants to take that job and the two seasoned statesmen slugged it out and sometimes, got in each others' faces over points of contention.
The overall debate watcher and media reactions: both performed strongly, but Obama just a little more so.
Oct. 16, 2012 - Hempstead, New York, U.S. - President BARACK OBAMA, right, and Republican presidential nominee MITT ROMNEY during their second presidential debate at Hofstra University. (Credit Image: © John Paraskevas/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
But did the President do that well or was his performance two weeks ago that bad?
Regardless, CNN's post-debate polling showed Romney held firm in some key areas despite facing a far more punchy opponent.
CNN Poll asked who was better at handling a few scenarios:
- Economy: 58 percent Romney, 40 percent Obama.
- Healthcare 49 percent Romney, 46 percent Obama
- Taxes: 51 percent Romney, 44 percent Obama
- Deficit: 59 percent Romney, 36 percent Obama
Respondents see what the country sees; a man ready to take charge on the economic front. He's remained resolute and strong on the jobs message.
That's all well and good, but the number both candidates care about: 270.
Here's the most up-to-date electoral map for the nation that shows some states solid for either candidate or in play as a swing.
Should either Michigan (18 electoral votes) or Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) fall into toss-up category, Romney might re-think his strategy in Wisconsin (10 electoral votes).
Overall, both candidates worked hard tonight and clearly, the president sharpened his focus on criticism over Libya and energy production, landing some of his biggest hits of the debate.
But Romney performed more consistently when added with his performance two weeks ago. Combined with his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan last week, we get a picture of the Romney/Ryan administration.
More amazingly, Romney's stellar debate performances actually made believers of many Americans enough to put some states in sight it might not have even considered a month ago.
On any given debate night, wonkettes.
Be sure to stick with us for next week's final debate on October 22...
- Follow me @erica_holloway.
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