Take a deep breath everyone. Obama will be in the White House for four more years. While Obama's lackluster performance in his first debate lit a fire under the dispirited Republican base, it didn't change any voter's mind. It merely got them to make a lot of noise. The presidential election was always going to be a close one. Though polls appear to show Romney gaining ground and Obama slipping since the first debate, it's just that people are now more willing to admit which candidate they have always intended to vote for.
Political analysts may continue to squabble over the importance of the undecided voters, but don't listen to them. Much like Bigfoot, the many sightings of the fabled "undecided voters" in all those polls have been hoaxes. They have never really existed. It was just that, until the first presidential debate, the Republican base had been so disgusted by Romney's relentless foot-in-mouth performances that they were reluctant to admit they were going to vote for him anyway. Obama's team, meanwhile, just couldn't come up with a better reason to stick with him than the fact that the other guy didn't give them a good enough excuse to defect - so they too claimed to be undecided.
Out of the Closet
The unemployment figures dipping, the economy seeming to be painfully, slowly creaking in the positive direction, and surveys showing increasing consumer confidence have finally given die-hard Democrats enough ammunition to defend their support of Obama. The frantic noise coming from the Romney camp after their man "won" the first debate also scared them out of their lethargy, reminding them that the election could still be snatched from them if they didn't speak up now and get out the vote.
Romney supporters, meanwhile, were never, ever going to vote for Obama. But to proudly endorse Romney, they needed their man to show some backbone against his rival. If there's one thing conservatives hate more than liberals, it's weak-willed conservatives. Romney seemed to have redeemed himself in the first debate.
So now, with both sides firmly entrenched in their decisions, the last two debates won't matter (the polls never have). Everyone will talk, no one will hear. Romney will come out shooting, Obama will come out fighting. Both sides will claim victory. And both sides will be right. Except that, come election night, Romney's side will be crying foul, accusing the Democrats of rigging the voting booths - and demanding recounts. And Obama's side will be breathing a sigh of relief.