Presidential Debate-Round III: Florida Showdown

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney exchange views during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.PlayDavid Goldman/AP Photo
WATCH Final Presidential Debate 2012: Polls Show Tie

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Today's third and final presidential debate is the last, best opportunity for voters to see how these two men look in the role of commander-in-chief.

ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes that the bickering and sniping that dominated the second debate would look out of place in this decidedly more sober setting where the focus will be on foreign policy.

While an incumbent would normally enjoy a tremendous advantage on the topic of foreign affairs, President Obama has only the slimmest lead over Mitt Romney on these issues, according to recent polls.

On the question of who would make a better commander-in-chief, Sunday's NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found that Obama had just a 3-point lead, down from 8 points in September. On how the president is doing in handling foreign affairs, just percent give him good marks, while 46 percent disapprove of the job he's doing.

The bigger problem for Obama in both the NBC News-Wall Street Journal and the Politico Battleground poll is that he is losing the economic argument. On the key question of which candidate would do a better job on "jobs and unemployment," Romney is ahead by 7 points (46 percent to 39 percent) in NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey. In the battleground poll, Romney is seen as better able to handle the economy by a 51-45 percent margin.

But the national polls only tell half the story. Indeed, both sides contend that they are doing very little — if any — national polling and are focused instead on state polling. And there are signs that while the race is tightening in key swing states, Obama continues to lead Romney. A new Quinnipiac University-CBS News poll in Ohio shows Obama holding on to a smaller, but still significant lead, 50 to 45 percent.

Such numbers will only increase chatter about the possibility of a popular vote-electoral vote split, with Romney winning the popular vote but Obama winning the electoral vote and, of course, a second term.

Another reason Team Obama should be worried: Republican enthusiasm continues to outpace that of Democrats. That's why Obama and Biden are spending a lot more time on the trail bashing Romney. They are hoping that if they can't get their base to the polls on "hope and change," at least "fear and loathing" might do the trick.