Shock Poll – Romney's strong debate performance has erased Obama's lead in the polls. Pew finds Romney up by 4 (49% to 45% among likely voters). 66% of registered voters said Romney did a better job in the debate. According to Gallup, Romney and Obama have pulled dead even in the polls, with 47% support each. How it's playing in the swing states – Michigan: Obama up 3 (48-45), down from 10 points last month; Pennsylvania: Obama up 2 (47-45); Virginia: Obama up 3 (50-47), down from 10 points; Wisconsin: Obama by 2 (49-47), down from 7 points two weeks ago.
Big. Yellow. Loved by Kids Everywhere – Today, Obama for America is out with a new TV spot “because, while President Obama passed historic Wall Street reform to hold big banks accountable and give consumers tools to make informed decisions for themselves, his opponent, Mitt Romney, has shown true conviction by vowing to take down Big Bird and keep Sesame Street under control.” Watch the ad here.
5 Things to Watch for in the VP Debate – (via Reuters) "1) FIREWORKS Biden and Ryan have shown a greater willingness to mix it up than their buttoned-down bosses, and both seem comfortable playing the traditional vice-presidential role of attack dog. 2) LIAR, LIAR Democrats feel that Obama let too many of Romney's assertions on taxes, health care and other topics go unchallenged during their first of three television debates on Wednesday. ... Biden has said he won't let any questionable claims go unchallenged. 3) MEDICARE Ryan built his reputation on a proposal that would partially privatize the government-run medical plan for the elderly and handicapped in an effort to prevent health costs from swamping the federal budget. … Expect Biden to come out swinging on that one - Democrats have won elections for decades by warning that Republicans would gut the program, and the issue seems to be working in their favor this year. 4) CAN RYAN HANDLE FOREIGN POLICY? In Biden [Ryan] will be facing a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who handled the Obama administration's withdrawal from Iraq. On paper, the mismatch is stark. 5) FOUR YEARS DOWN THE ROAD This is the only time these two candidates will meet in a debate this year, but it might not be the last. If Obama wins re-election on November 6, Ryan would be viewed as a leading contender for the 2016 Republican nomination. As sitting vice president, Biden could have a strong chance at winning his party's nomination in four years as well."
SCOTUS to Take Up Affirmative Action Wednesday – (via ABC News) "Supporters of affirmative action fear that the Supreme Court could curtail or further restrict the use of race-conscious admissions policies at public universities. On Wednesday, all eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote is considered pivotal in the case brought by a white Texan who has sued the University of Texas at Austin, claiming that she was denied admission to the school in 2008 because of her race. Abigail Fisher, who has since graduated from Louisiana State University, said she was subject to unequal treatment in violation of the 14th Amendment. … On the other side are lawyers for the University of Texas, who argue that, like many other universities, UT seeks to assemble a class that is diverse in innumerable ways -- including race -- and that "race is just one of many characteristics that form the mosaic presented by an applicant's file." … What's at issue is: (1) whether it will remain permissible to consider race in an attempt to ensure that higher level education remains integrated; and (2) whether universities or the court are going to be the ones to determine what academic diversity consists of."
U.S. and Israel Closing in on "Surgical Strike" on Iran – Former Clinton official David Rothkopf argues in Foreign Policy Magazine that the U.S. and Israel are "zeroing in" on the possibility of mounting a surgical strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Rothkopf cited a "source close to the discussions" as saying that the option discussed at this time is based on a "joint US-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities." Rothkopf says the advocates of this policy believe that it would not only achieve the immediate goal of creating a substantial setback to Tehran's nuclear program, it is also more "politically palatable" in the United States.
Fearless Felix Jump Put on Weather Hold – Plans for extreme skydiver Felix Baumgartner to make a death-defying, 23-mile free fall into the southeastern New Mexico desert were on hold Tuesday morning because of winds, but his team is still hoping the weather will clear in time to make the jump. He's now scheduled to make the jump around 1:30 p.m. EST. The 43-year-old former military parachutist from Austria plans to take off in a 55-story, ultra-thin and easy-to-tear helium balloon that will take him into the stratosphere for a jump that he hopes will make him the first skydiver to break the sound barrier and shatter three other world records.
Top PolicyMic Stories – Mitt Romney Wants War, But He's Not Fit to Declare It (Chris Miller) – Mitt Romney never served, but neither did President Obama. Romney's policies, would put thousands of U.S. troops in harm's way in new Middle East conflicts. The president's would not.
Real Clear Politics Polls: Senate Race Updates and Poll Numbers from Ohio to Florida (John Giokaris) – With four weeks to go until Election Day, Republicans have seen several leads in critical Senate races disappear. The chamber is now up for grabs and a majority could be obtained by either party.
Orlando Cruz is the First Openly Gay Boxer and Could Change Contact Sports Forever (Frank Hagler) – Orlando Cruz became the first openly gay boxer in history. Cruz' announcement could be as significant a moment as there has ever been in the history of contact sports.
The Untold Story of Marvel Comics: An Inside Look at The Avengers, Spiderman, and X-Men (Abdul Siddiqui) – Sean Howe's account provides an intimate and detailed look at the company that brought us modern superheros, although it might be irrelevant for casual readers or average moviegoers.
What We’re Reading – Did Obama just throw the entire election away? (The Daily Beast); Sandusky gets 30-60 years in prison (Reuters); The return of Kony 2012 (Foreign Policy); Inside the NYPD's suicide squad (NY Times); Don't deface anti-Muslim metro ads (Congrats to Pundit Nathan Lean in the Washington Post).