Here were two predictions:
Unless both candidates doze off at the same time, the debates will be, at very least, mildly entertaining.
- Unless one of the candidates douses himself with holy water and melts on camera, the debates will not affect who wins.
Neither candidate fell asleep. Neither candidate melted.
As predicted, the debates were mildly entertaining, at least for me.
My second prediction will be tested, to the extent that a subjective judgment can be made, in a few weeks.
The clear loser of the debate was the moderator.
I felt that Mitt Romney was more effective than he typically has been. I suspect that is because he was willing to throw large parts of the party base, and his own previous positions, under the bus. At this point, most members of the right are more consumed with Obama hatred than they are fixated on ideological purity. Under the bus may seem kind of cozy to them just now. Against almost any other national Democrat, Mitt Romney would have won handily on each topic.
I felt that President Obama was less effective than he has been in the past. He was professorial. On the points, he won, but televised debates are seldom won or lost on debating points. Although technically correct, appearing to agree with Governor Romney on the eventual dismantling of Social Security represented a lost opportunity. Against any other Republican, President Obama would have lost abysmally on each topic.
To my mind the sum was that, in a contest between Romney at his best, and Obama at his most academic, the President came out ahead.
It strikes me that televised debates are seldom decided on style or substance. Another element has been at play during the campaign, and could have been deciding factor last night.
Campaigns have been notably negative in the last few weeks. Polls indicate that attack ads against the President and the challenger have played out quite differently. The Obama people have repeatedly referenced the 47% remarks by Mitt Romney. The Romney folks have centered their convention on the Obama "you didn't do that" remark. In the weeks since then, the Romney side has seized on distortions of a variety of remarks the President has made in the last couple of decades.
The casual words of attack on people who the Republican candidate believes think of themselves as victims, those who want "you name it" for free, those who are chronically unwilling to accept responsibility, those words have become familiar to most voters. The numbers show most have reacted with a lower opinion of Mr. Romney.
Fewer voters are familiar with "you didn't do that." Those who have absorbed Republican attacks have also reacted. Unexpectedly, most of those who are familiar say their opinion of Mr. Obama improved as a result.
Why the difference? The data suggest two things. People find the President more likeable. And they are tending to discount attacks on him. Voters, by and large, believe the attacks on Romney. They do not believe attacks on Obama.
Not lost on some voters is that a few Romney campaign attacks on Obama have danced pretty close to a racial tinge. The fact that Mr. Romney last night felt comfortable comparing Barack Obama to his boys will have had a familiar ring to some viewers. In some respects, those days may be gone forever, but they have a lifetime's familiarity to those who lived in a harsher world.
In the end, I think the national debate devolves to the studio debate. President Obama will have won because voters like him and are prepared to believe him. More of the television audience will have reacted that way than will have liked and believed Governor Romney.
The reasons for this are pure speculation on my part. I think it because enough of those attacks on the President have been unbelievable to suggest to voters that the rest are to be dismissed. In contrast, the attacks on Mr. Romney are not based on anything out of context. The context makes his words worse. So the attacks are believed.
I think that determines the debate and (this may turn out to be wishful thinking) the election.
Last night, Mr. Romney came across as well practiced and smooth. Smooth and shiny as a sheen of oil on the highway after a light sprinkle.
I suspect and hope that is how he is perceived.
A little oily. Slippery when wet.
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Excellent effort on your part Burr Deming for quickly attempting to fashion a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
By the way, just to be clear imho, Romney pummeled Obama repeatedly for nearly two hours. It was like watching the re-match in Rocky III with Romney cast as Rocky. There were times where I actually felt bad for Obama, he seemed defenseless and overmatched. It was as if Obama, who is grossly under-qualified for the office he holds, was going up against true Presidential timber for the first time in his life.
That was a “beyond absurd” insinuation. Romney suggested that Obama panders to broke green energy companies (instead of wealthy oil companies, like Romney does), in order to fund his campaign. No response allowed. I doubt that Obama would have given an assertive response, anyway, though, so it was probably for the best.
I have seen this Obama before. It was during the Tea Party fights. He tried to remain compromising and understanding against an unyielding and relentlessly aggressive opponent. Many progressive blogs denounced him, vowing not to vote for him again and encouraging others to follow suit.
Obama did not simply lose the fight by submission; he tapped, lest he upset anyone.
Welcome back, Mr. Obama.
Most pundits credit Romney with a win. For the most part, they focus on energy level and facial expressions, which are difficult for me to quantify.
I differ from most voters, I suppose in that Medicare and Social Security of some special interest to me. Because of circumstance I may be a little more aware of enough basic facts to discount much of Mitt Romney's presentation as easily detected falsehoods. They may not be so easily detected by viewers with a more normal level of interest.
The assumption is also that all issues discussed are of equal importance to voters. The dismantling of Medicare as proposed by Mr. Romney, although not aimed at seniors or almost-seniors, is an especially sensitive area for many of us.
Before last night, I believe there were 5 Presidents running for re-election agreed to debate opponents. 4 of the 5 were thought by pundits to have lost the first debate. 2 of the 5 lost, 3 won.
It's possible the debates in those elections were decisive, but I don't see it.
In terms of the delivery that I witnessed, Romney was more effective. But I have never thought of Obama as passionate and I am actually not impressed by his oratory abilities, so this came as no surprise.
In terms of their debate strategies, Romney came out ahead. It is a bit easier for him as the challenger, since he can mostly focus on areas where the incumbent has failed or seemed to fail. However, even accounting for this, Obama only casually defended himself (if at all), failed to stress the implications of massive spending cuts, and failed to press Romney for the details of his own plan, which are pretty important.
In terms of the accuracy of their claims, I would say that Obama came out on top, accounting for both quantity and severity of errors/lies.
In terms of explaining in detail what they would do during the next four years, I was disappointed by both. It is not enough to have the sense that the two men offer very different solutions; I want to know more.
I don't really care for the debates. I would prefer to see a thorough, written explanation of their policies and how they would work with Congress to accomplish them.
When you discount all the factors that Burr doesn't care about, Obama wins. When you ignore the fact that Obama offered nothing new and recycled old speeches, Obama wins. When you can only see the partisan view of Romney (that is, an evil Republican who hates the poor), Obama wins.
Here's the reality, which I'll make every effort not to let my own wishful thinking interfere with. Obama has been polling below 50%. So has Romney, but what matters is the Obama number.
Undecided voters have had plenty of time to decide on Obama, so the reason they are still undecided is that they were unsure about Romney. They knew they didn't want to vote for Obama, but they didn't know if they wanted to vote for Romney.
Undecided voters were watching last night to see if Romney has what it takes to get the job done. They knew Obama's performance was pretty much irrelevant because the verdict is in, but how would Romney perform?
The answer is that Romney was forceful and direct and came ready with answers. He verbalized all the things that undecided voters have thought about Obama for two years.
The number of Republicans and Democrats who would change their minds after last night's debate is irrelevant (read: zero). Now start watching the polls for moves among undecided and independent voters.
In the next 10 days, you will see them shift to Romney and Burr's World will come to a bitter end. Yes, even though in Burr's World, Obama won the debate.
Speaking of tangents: It was amazing watching both of them; Their cadences. Their tones. You could really tell when they actually came up with something off the top of their head or when they were uttering aspects of their stump speeches. Go back and watch it. Slow, deliberate and calculated speech was something that was being generated on the spot. Quick, sharp rhetoric was just practiced stump statements.
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