(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Prior to last week’s face-off in Denver, everyone was talking about whether debates change elections. A Post piece said no:

The evidence for debate effects on election outcomes is thus weak at best, and at worst nonexistent.

A poll said yes. Everywhere you turned, someone was making a case one way or the other; most of the folks I heard claimed a negligible impact.

Now there’s more: A Pew poll released today bears this title: “Romney’s Strong Debate Performance Erases Obama’s Lead

Read the document; virtually every line punctures any notion that debates are somehow weaklings vis-a-vis the iron constitution of the American voter. There’s this: “Fully 66% of registered voters say Romney did the better job in last Wednesday’s debate, compared with just 20% who say Obama did better.” And this: “In turn, Romney has drawn even with Obama in the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September.” Not to mention this: “The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 4-7 among 1,511 adults, including 1,201 registered voters (1,112 likely voters), finds that 67% of Romney’s backers support him strongly, up from 56% last month.”

So maybe debates do influence voters. Especially debates in which one candidate obliterates the opposition, leading to a countrywide consensus, a “Saturday Night Live” skit affirming the consensus, an incumbent who jokes about the performance, a totally fired-up opponent and media that surely don’t mind returning to their talking points about how razor close the race has become.