The reviews among the cognoscenti and the regular folks alike are in: Mitt Romney beat President Obama in last night's presidential debate.
The one lasting image that I think will be taken from the debate isn't anything that was said. There were no zingers and no flops. Rather, it was the split-screen shots of Mr. Romney making eye contact with Mr. Obama while Mr. Obama spoke, but Mr. Obama looking down, taking notes as Mr. Romney spoke.
It was not pretty.
What could that mean for down-ticket candidates like Republican Matt Doheny, who is facing Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in November?
Doheny partisans say that Mr. Romney's performance could help him significantly — much like Owens partisans had said Mr. Romney's 47 percent comments could help sink Mr. Doheny.
“If you look at how things start to shake out, of course Mitt Romney having better support is going to help,” said Robert Blizzard, a pollster for Mr. Doheny whose recent survey showed the race very close.
Mr. Doheny's and Mr. Romney's fortunes aren't vote-for-vote, of course. But there are a few things to consider here. If this race turned into a runaway — which Mr. Romney's debate performance last night may have prevented — the GOP base would have been dispirited. Think about it in sports terms. When your favorite team is down 10 runs and in last place in the AL East, you're not going to Fenway. You might even turn off the TV.
Interestingly, an Owens poll showed Mr. Owens with a 14-point lead over Mr. Doheny and Mr. Obama with a 12-point lead over Mr. Romney.
That second result was shocking. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Mr. Obama took the congressional district. He won the old district by five points in 2008. But 12 points?
Mr. Blizzard, whose firm does polling for the Romney campaign, too, said that Mr. Romney's numbers would help turn that unbelievable number around (the survey took place before the debate).
"That strikes me as high for Obama’s support and ... after last night’s debate, we think some things are going to be changing pretty quickly," Mr. Blizzard said.
I asked Mr. Blizzard about the varying reflections of reality between the Owens poll and the Doheny poll. A Siena College Research Institute poll showed the race at a 13-point Owens lead. Mr. Blizzard correctly noted that a Siena poll in October 2010 showed Mr. Owens with a double-digit lead, but of course that doesn't take into account that the lead was cut to five when voters were told Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman had dropped out.
"We’re confident that our numbers are an accurate reflection of where the district is today," Mr. Blizzard said.