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You're reading: Tight race, big debate ahead with 3 weeks to go
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The Republican challenger had trailed the Democratic incumbent in national polls for weeks, but now has drawn even, benefiting from a boost of enthusiasm following a strong first debate performance 10 days ago. While Romney’s standing has improved in some states, Obama retains an edge in the hunt for the 270 electoral votes needed to take the White House. The president also has far more ways than Romney to reach that magic number.

But that’s not enough to calm nervous Democrats, even as they revel in Vice President Joe Biden’s pull-no-punches turn on the debate stage Thursday night against Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. They are looking for an equally aggressive Obama to show up for the prime-time town-hall style debate in Hempstead, New York.

“The race is tightening,” said Mo Elleithee, a Democratic campaign strategist and former aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton during her primary campaign against Obama in 2008. “It will be very, very close.” But, he added, “The president will win re-election.”

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