Michael Barone:

 “Wednesday night’s presidential debate in which Mitt Romney shellacked Barack Obama attracted the biggest audience since the debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan seven days before the 1980 election..

About 70 million Americans watched, a little more than half the 131 million voter turnout in 2008. That’s an estimate, because the ratings companies don’t count those watching on C-SPAN, PBS or the Internet.

Did the debates matter? The first state polls, conducted by Rasmussen and We Ask America on Thursday night, suggest the answer is yes.

Rasmussen reported that Romney was down 1 point in Ohio. We Ask America had him up 1 there.

Rasmussen had Romney up 1 in Virginia. We Ask America had him up 3. And in Florida, We Ask America had Romney up 3.

These states are important because the Obama campaign has spent millions on anti-Romney ads there, to build a fire wall blocking Romney from getting to a 270-vote majority in the Electoral College.

The arithmetic is fairly simple. The 28 states plus D.C. and one Nebraska congressional district that Obama carried in 2008 have 359 electoral votes this year. Subtract Indiana, which has fallen off the target list, and the Nebraska district, and he’s down to 347.”