Who won the week?
Mitt Romney and President Obama play nice after the first presidential debate on Oct. 3. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Mitt Romney's rousing debate performance gave his campaign a much-needed shot of, well, "chance-to-win" serum. And the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent as the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised estimates from previous months. Here, President Obama, is your not-so-anemic recovery!
Ron Fournier of National Journal tweeted that the latter is better than the former and Obama won the week. It plays to Obama's "trajectory argument," he wrote. And voters know that "7" is better than "8." NBC's First Read team notes that the positive press coverage from the news will help guide the news coverage over the next 24 to 48 hours, and since the first real polls you'll want to read — those that fully incorporate the debate, its aftermath and this news, won't come out until Tuesday, the shellacking effect Obama might have experienced will be diminished.
We're getting to a point where there is no "short term" boost anymore; the election is so close. I still think that the debate matters more than the numbers. Romney had an audience of 50 million people and proved that he belonged to stand next to the president of the United States. For many Americans, anemic growth is the new normal, and the sense that the economy is gradually getting better is priced into the stock that both candidates hold. Those voters looking elsewhere solely because of the economy have probably already chosen Romney. If they're looking anew at Romney, it may be that his presentation mattered more than what he said. He simply is another option now.
And yet: Here is one time when the reality may be better than the perception. The BLS revised upwards the economic growth for the past few months, and there is evidence that the job growth is keeping pace with a larger number of people entering the labor force. That is, the ratio of those who left the market to those who entered it is declining quickly. This is probably why people feel like the economy is getting better and are resistant to the argument that it is not. Now there's hard data to back up that impression.
Want to know who won the week? Here's a question: Which campaign would you rather be at this point?
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