1. Given the serious fluctuation in the polls everywhere, including in swing states, the stakes for tonight’s debate are incredibly high.
2. If Mitt Romney wins this one decisively, the third debate won’t matter worth a whisker.
3. Regardless of the content of his answers, Obama is going to do his damndest to appear more decisive than last time. This will mean more decibels and fewere ums, ahs and uhs.
4. The Obama administration’s weakest point is Libya. Given his past willingness to criticize the administration over this, expect Romney to go after Benghazi with everything he’s got.
5. Let me apologize in advance to the neighbors for all the ruckus if Romney calls for Hillary’s scalp.
6. Expect Obama to attack Romney for his many imagined crimes against women to try to stop the free fall of female support for the Democratic ticket.
7. The townhall format is a wild card. Sometimes you get a 1992-style townhall, that features a lot of pain being felt. Sometimes you get a 2004-style townhall, where voters manage to gobsmack the candidates with impolitic questions. They might, for instance, ask Obama about gay marriage or Romney about Mormonism.
8. Many pundits are predicting the format will be hard for Romney. Doubt this. He’s just had to deal with a lot of crowds quite recently, including some rowdy ones. Also, Romney isn’t nearly as bad at connecting with folks as we’ve been led to expect. He was the Mormon equivalent of a pastor for many years.
9. Obama is more used to connecting with people who already agree with him, as a community organizer, law professor and politician/cult figure, so he may actually have to battle against a little discomfort here. Cry him a river.
10. Five gummi bears says Romney mentions the Ross Perot endorsement tonight. Anybody want to take that bet?