Welcome to the US election round-up on the morning of the vice presidential debate in Kentucky.

While the deputies were doggedly learning their lines in debate preparation sessions, the presidential candidates hit the road in swing states again. The campaigns are heading to Florida and North Carolina for Democrats and Republicans respectively. Read more

Big Bird has made an unexpected appearance in the election (Getty)

Big Mo or Big Bird? For those pundits who weren’t talking about outsized avian children’s characters, it was another day of obsessing about the polls and Mitt Romney’s momentum.

The dissection of a flock of polls by Nate Silver in the New York Times‘ FiveThirtyEight blog offered little comfort to President Barack Obama’s camp as it tried to limit the surge in support his Republican opponent gained from last week’s debate in Colorado.

Silver said he was waiting for further evidence from state and national surveys, “but we are ready to conclude that one night in Denver undid most of the advantage Mr. Obama had appeared to gain in September”. Read more

Romney supporters are starting to get excited (Getty)

Every four years, experienced political commentators and pundits swear they will not repeat the mistakes of four years ago, when they allowed a single poll to influence their view of how the election was going to fall out.

But, as the candidates head to swing states (President Barack Obama is in Florida this week, his challenger Mitt Romney campaigns in Iowa and Ohio today), the commentariat is becoming excited by a poll showing the race for the White House turned on its head by last week’s debate. Read more

Welcome to the US election round-up on a day when neither the polls nor the editorials will make pleasant reading for the White House.

President Barack Obama’s perceived poor performance in last Wednesday’s first debate has left him trailing in the swing state of Florida, according to the two most recent polls there as recorded by RealClearPolitics.com. Worse still, in Ohio, seen by many as the key to re-election, the same two pollsters show the president neck and neck with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. It should be added that the methodology of at least one of these polls, Rasmussen Reports, has been questioned by some as tending to give too much weight to the strength of support for Mr Romney. Furthermore, Richard McGregor argues here that Obama can afford to lose Florida and still garner enough electoral college votes to make it across the finishing line.

But overall, RCP’s average of polls has the gap tightening across the nation, with the president’s lead cut to 1.4 per cent from 2.6 per cent on Friday, before post-debate surveys were run. Read more

Welcome to the round-up of news coverage of the US presidential election. There is a noticeable spring in the step of election pundits in the wake of the first presidential debate.

Yes, while political rune-readers and campaign commentators had been showing a rather lacklustre performance in recent days, the surprisingly interesting Denver dialogue has invigorated not just the campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but his backers in the newspaper columns too.

With no major polls taken since the debate, we are still in the kingdom of analysis, where the likes of George Will hold court. In the Washington Post, Will ripped into President Barack Obama for failing to prepare properly:

His vanity — remember, he gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod whose menu included two of his speeches — perhaps blinds him to the need to prepare. And to the fact that it is not lese-majeste to require him to defend his campaign ads’ dubious assertions with explanations longer than the ads. And to the ample evidence, such as his futile advocacy for Democratic candidates and Obamacare, that his supposed rhetorical gifts are figments of acolytes’ imagination.

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Good morning and welcome to the round up of news coverage of the US presidential election and today’s campaign calendar from Politico.com just about says it all. It’s all about the debate, and the debate is: do debates make any difference?

A dress rehearsal, featuring students, is held in Denver for Wednesday's presidential debate (Getty Images)

Received wisdom is that debates rarely win an election, but they can lose one. For every candidate’s bull’s-eye, such as the great Ronald Reagan “There you go again”, there are a dozen awkward moments or barely-avoided catastrophes.

At the weekend, the New York Times told us that Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger was in possession of “a series of zingers that he has memorised and has been practising on aides since August”, but on Wednesday Dana Millbank in the Washington Post points out that a Zinger is in real life an item of confectionery stacked high in trans-fatty acids and other ingredients guaranteed to clog the arteries.

In an article making reference to “sugar rushes” and lack of fibre, Millbank writes:

At a time when even his fondest supporters are pleading for more substance, Mitt Romney is giving them the political equivalent of junk food. His has been the Zinger candidacy — all sugary platitudes, no protein.

In the Chicago Sun Times, Steve Huntley says President Barack Obama is open to being exposed as an emperor with no clothes in the Denver debate on Wednesday night. Read more

Welcome to the US Election 2012 round-up and with 35 days to go until polling day, there is a sudden lull in events. That isn’t because everyone just got bored of 24-hour-a-day politics – although perhaps we shouldn’t rule that out – but because tomorrow is the first presidential debate.

Say what you will about the US general election system, but it consistently throws up contests between two men whose camps are certain that the debate will change everything in favour of their guy (or, very occasionally, gal). Many US papers have pointed out in their Tuesday editions that there is little evidence that debates do actually make a difference, but to campaign teams that spend millions on advice, polls and statistical microscopy, that doesn’t seem to make a penny’s worth of difference to the amount of effort they put in.

So, today, neither candidate is on the road, but locked away with advisers, preparing their devastating one-liners and their most sincere looks into camera. Meanwhile, as Politico’s campaign calendar reveals, the vice-presidential candidates are in swing states, with Vice President Joe Biden in North Carolina and Paul Ryan, the man picked by Mitt Romney to oust Mr Biden, in Iowa.

With the RealClearPolitics.com poll average showing President Barack Obama’s lead slipping slightly to 3.5 points across all 50 states, the New York Times’ specialist polling site FiveThirtyEight says it has run computer simulations which have in some models shown a statistical tie in the electoral college vote is possible at 269 for each candidate — but fortunately it is only a 0.6 per cent probability.

Those stories not concentrating on the debates look at the state of that race in the so-called battleground states. The National Journal has done some interesting burrowing on where the Democrats are having successRead more

A t-shirt seller at an Obama rally in Virginia. Photo AP

Welcome to a quick look at how the media has been covering the campaign and what are the big stories from the past 24 hours, as well as what to expect today.

 

There is an increasing focus on next week’s debate in Denver, the first of three between President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The website Politico says it has become “do-or-die-time” for the challenger as other elements of his campaign have failed to live up to expectations of efficient communication. Read more

Welcome to a live blog with analysis and comment from FT experts as Spain’s cabinet gives details of a savage budget that will determine the immediate future of the country and relation with the rest of Europe. Watching closely: Eurozone partners; central banking institutions; the Spanish people; regional separatists, to name a few. Strong reaction is expected, from the market and the street, to further austerity measures. David Gardner, John Aglionby and Ben Fenton are collating the best of it.

 

18.22: FT experts are retreating into their fastnesses as we write to deliver cogent and considered views on what the Spanish government’s actions mean, and we live desk types gird our loins for the next challenge. Until then, que no hayan novedades, as they used to say in Spain.

18.06: Peter Spiegel has sad news from Brussels for friends of the European Financial Stability Facillity:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/SpiegelPeter/status/251365778589368320"]

While it is unlikely to be mourned, and there are no plans we know of for an FT obit, it was, in its full form, popular with macro-economic rappers. That “stability-facility” thing, just magic.

18.03: Currency market reaction to the Spanish budget from the FT’s Alice Ross, reminding us that there is more news to come tomorrow, principally on how much Spain’s banks need to recapitalise.:

After hitting its lowest level all day during the Spanish budget, the euro later recovered and was trading just under $1.29, a 0.2 per cent rise on the day. Other currencies related to risk appetite built on their gains, with the Australian dollar rising 0.8 per cent, the New Zealand dollar rising 1 per cent and the UK pound rising 0.4 per cent.

Currency analysts said the rise in the euro was perhaps more related to the removal of uncertainty following the highly anticipated budget, rather than an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the proposals. And the euro is not out of the woods yet, with the results of Spain’s banking stress tests tomorrow set to indicate how much Spain’s banks need by way of recapitalisation.

18.00: Very interesting post from Lisa Pollack over in FT’s Alphaville community, on whether capital flight from Spain is as straightforward as it seems to be.

 

17.56: Hold up, just a bit of news in at the end there. Montoro, the budget minister, refused to comment when asked whether Spanish state pensions would rise in line with inflation next year. A fairly significant “No Comment”, one would imagine.

17.54: In fact, according to @cataloniadirect, the Catalan parliament has just approved calling a referendum on independence. That is hardly likely to be the last word on the matter, but it does suggest that we haven’t heard the last of that story by a long chalk.

17.52: But, just as Chris Adams thinks it’s all over…it is now. Spanish government’s press conference has now ended. We may have a bit more market reaction for you though, so hang in for a bit. Read more

Welcome to FT’s summary of US election news

 

Mitt Romney (left) with the latest celebrity to offer him advice, golfing great Jack Nicklaus. Photo AP

Thursday sees a relatively quiet day on the road for the campaigns: there are no new polls to chew over and while both candidates head to Virginia, a state still in play according to surveys, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, have only one stop there.

Mr Romney then heads off to Pennsylvania, where US press reports suggested he has already stopped advertising. The average of state polls at RealClearPolitics.com gives Mr Obama an 8.3 point lead in Pennsylvania. The website’s overall poll has the president retaining a 4 point lead nationwide, but it is becoming clearer by the day that just a few states will really decide the outcome. Ohio is one of them. Read more