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National Pew Poll: Romney Leads 49% to 45%

In a stunning reversal from a month ago, in Pew Research's poll of likely voters, Mitt Romney now leads President Obama by 4 points. In September, Obama led by 9 points. Other polls have shown that Romney got a bump from the first debate, but most of them showed Obama still holding a narrow lead. The poll was conducted Oct. 4-7, entirely after the debate.

However, a close look at the internals of the poll turns up something odd. In the October sample, 31% of the respondents self identified as Democrats (vs. 39% in September). Similar, there were 36% Republicans in October (vs. 29% in September). While many people believe Romney "won" the debate, it is extremely unlikely that 21% of the nation's Democrats changed parties as a result of one debate. So there is a fair chance that the Pew poll is an outlier that undersampled Democrats and oversampled Republicans.

For comparison purposes, two other national polls hav also been done entirely since the first debate. Rasmussen has it as a tie at 48% to 48% and Gallup has it at 47% to 47%.

Next Congress Will Be More Divided than This One

No matter which party controls the Senate and House, the next Congress will be far more partisan and less inclined to make deals than the current one due to the exit of centrists from both parties. The Democratic Blue Dog caucus, which was home to the most conservative Democrats in the House, has been decimated, moving the party as a whole further to the left. The trend is expected to continue, with Blue Dogs Jim Matheson (D-UT), John Barrow (D-GA), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Larry Kissell (D-NC) in tough fights. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Dan Boren (D-OK) have given up altogether and are retiring. With the Republicans, centrists have either retired, been defeated in primaries, or are likely to lose in the general election, moving the Republican caucus further to the right.

The same pattern holds in the Senate. With the retirements of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), there are not a lot of senators left who can form a bridge to the other party. The consequence of these shifts is that deal making in the new Congress is going to be even harder than in the current one, and that was no picnic.

In a sense, Congress is going to be more like the British Parliament, with two diametrically opposed parties and nearly all votes going along straight party lines. Of course, the British Prime Minister is always the leader of the majority party and there is no filibuster there, so the majority can actually get things done. The U.S. is likely to end up with the worst features of both systems: intense partisanship combined with the ability of the minority party to block the majority at every turn.

Active Duty and Retired Military Personnel Support Romney

A poll of active-duty, National Guard, and reserve members who subscribe to the Military Times shows that 66% want Romney as Commander-in-Chief and 26% want President Obama to fulfill that role. However, it is not clear how the email poll was conducted and how random the sample was, especially when 80% report having a college degree.

Biden V2.0 May Be Very Different from Biden V1.0

In 2008, Joe Biden handled his debate-mate, Sarah Palin, with kid gloves to avoid angering women, which could easily have happened had he lit into her. On Thursday, we are almost certain to see a very different Biden, who is going to be landing as many punches on Paul Ryan as he can.

In particular, Biden is studying the transcript of the first presidential debate to see where Obama could have hit Romney and didn't. He is likely to hit Ryan on those points. Ryan has never been on the national stage before, so it is hard to tell what his debut will be like.

Reuters made a list of things to watch for in the vice-presidential debate:

Another factor to consider in the vice-presidential debate is the age gap between Biden (70) and Ryan (42). When Ryan was born in 1970, Biden had already finished college and law school, married, become a father, and been elected to public office (the New Castle County Council). When the subject of Medicare comes up--which it will repeatedly--Biden can talk to seniors about it with an air of authority. Ryan has to be careful not to come over as a callous pipsqueak who wants to throw granny under the bus.

Bill Clinton Campaigning Everywhere

Bill Clinton is on the campaign trail more than the candidates, and not just in the swing states. Among other appearances this week, he will be out there with California representatives John Garamendi (CA-03) and Jerry McNerney (CA-09) as well as California challengers Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez. In Arizona, he will be pitching Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona. Then it is on to Indiana where he will be at a rally for Senate candidate Joe Donnelly. In nearby Iowa, he will try to help congressional candidate Christie Vilsack.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Colorado 49% 48%   Oct 07 Oct 07 Rasmussen
Iowa 49% 47%   Oct 07 Oct 07 Rasmussen
Michigan 48% 45%   Oct 04 Oct 06 EPIC MRA
North Dakota 40% 54%   Oct 03 Oct 05 Mason Dixon

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Florida Bill Nelson* 52% Connie McGillicuddy 41%     Oct 04 Oct 04 Rasmussen
North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp 47% Rick Berg 47%     Oct 03 Oct 05 Mason Dixon
Virginia Tim Kaine 51% George Allen 44%     Oct 04 Oct 07 PPP
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin 49% Tommy Thompson 46%     Oct 04 Oct 06 PPP

* Denotes incumbent