In essence this debate ordinarily would mean the least of the three, but tonight with high numbers of undecideds it could potentially mean more. However, unless we have a knock out tonight then do not expect very many of them to decide since the first few debates have not done anything. I am convinced that while the topic of foreign policy generally favors an incumbent president; Obama will once again have more pressure on him tonight. Why?
1.) A perceived draw will not change the course of the race and probably offer no relief to numbers that keep showing a practically dead even race with the challenger gaining more.
2.) Obama cannot as easily deflect attacks against him with counter attacks. Since Romney does not have much of a foreign policy record so far, there are very little things that he can be attacked on.
3.) Obama is already firmly the favorite among voters when it comes to this issue. Regardless of how well Obama does tonight I do not expect much of a gain in this way. Yet, this is considered a weakness for Romney according to many voters. If he at least holds his own then this could really help.
Therefore, if Romney holds his own tonight and is at least perceived in that light. You would have to say he is the one that benefits the most. Remember undecided voters historically trend towards the challenger when they make up their mind at the last minute. So if undecided voters stay that way tonight then this is a victory in itself.
How could Obama come away as the overwhelming victor? Which is what he must do. Obama's perceived narrow victory in the last debate did nothing to chop away at the massive gains in which Romney made. He needs a big night! Here is how this could be accomplished...
1.) Romney makes an intelligence gaffe that portrays him as not ready, equipped, or knowledgeable enough to be commander in chief. This can also be done by Obama coming across as far more knowledgeable on most of the issues.
2.) Obama finds a sore spot in Romney's past statements and is able to make the entire debate about that one issue and thus repeatedly remind voters of it. Here is one example of something Obama could try and do this on...Romney wanting to increase defense funding more then the Pentagon has currently asked for. But, I do not think this strategy would work unless Romney makes a blunder on this the first time it is brought up.
3.) Obama finds a way to make most of the debate about how he got Osama Bin Ladin. He would likely have to get some help from the moderator on this one, because if he brings it up too many times when it is off subject this can turn into a negative. I still expect Obama to emphasize this tonight as much as he can.
The Wild card is Libya. This is an area that could potentially be dangerous for both candidates. I would call this a high risk, high reward subject especially for Romney. This will come up by the moderator, but the million dollar question is will Romney bring it up himself. If I had to make a guess I think Romney will try and mend the damage incurred last debate on this subject and press Obama as to why the story changed so dramatically. This is not necessarily a winnable strategy, but it has the potential of being damaging to Obama's perceived credibility on the issue.