October 2, 2012

Romney’s Victory: My First Presidential Debate Reaction

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After Wednesday’s Presidential debate in Denver between President Obama and Governor Romney, I have a few key takeaways to share with you.

Romney has some fight in him

The Governor came to play tonight. Ever since the conventions, Romney has been battered in the polls and in the media. Almost everyone concluded that he was losing, and some were arguing that he was losing bad. Tonight the Governor came out swinging. He attacked the President on his policies across the board and was largely successful in parrying the President’s barbs. Obama never did a good job explaining why his economic policies have not succeeded in creating employment and growth. Meanwhile, Obama got bogged down in wonkish arguments about the specifics of Romney’s tax policy. According to a CBS Flash Poll that was just published, uncommitted voters watching the debate thought Romney won by a margin of 46 percent to 22 percent. Not surprised, I feel the same way.

The Obama campaign underestimated MittIt looked like the Obama camp severely underestimated what Romney would bring to the table. This was inexcusable. Romney is a fine debater and except for a few occasional “loafer in mouth” slip-ups, he performed very well in the Republican primaries. He was assertive and presidential on stage, compared to Obama’s physical shiftiness and inability to make steady eye-contact.

Furthermore, Romney’s loose grasp of the truth is perfect for a debate like this. Low information voters do not know enough about Romney’s tax proposals, Obamacare or Dodd-Frank to know who to believe when Obama calls Romney out for misrepresentations of reality. Because of that Romney’s strong assertions played well and he delivered them with a smile.

Obama needs a new way of reaching votersWhere is Bill Clinton when you need him? Clinton’s convention speech was remarkable because it was able to convey to a mass audience why Obama’s economic strategies have been successful and need to continue. Clinton was also able to effectively argue against Romney’s conservative economic policies, without sounding professorial. Obama needs to figure out a way of conveying the messages Clinton did… Or even do half as good a job as Clinton did, because his performance tonight did not cut it.

Watch the polls Nate Silver, The New York Times’ polling expert recently published a piece where he concluded that, over past election cycles, challengers to incumbent candidates receive a modest bump in the polls (about +1.5 percent). If Romney receives a bump much higher than that, say around +4%, then we can concluded that the President might be in serious trouble, and really need to shore up his performances going forward. If Romney’s bump is less than that, then we can conclude that Obama’s current lead of about 4-5 percent is very solid — if tonight’s performance can’t move the polls toward Romney, it’s hard to imagine what will.

What we didn’t get discussed tonightThe 47 percent, Bain Capital, Romney’s tax returns, marriage equality, immigration, abortion, the auto bailout. To name a few.

Look toward future debatesWhile Obama came out the loser here, he has two debates to improve. Surely the reaction to the first debate will wake him and his campaign up. Furthermore, the final debate is on foreign policy, a matter Obama is far more comfortable speaking on, and his opponent far less. People often forget that President Obama entered the race for the Democratic nomination back in 2007 largely based on his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Comparatively, Governor Romney has little international experience to speak of — nd the last time he left the country he ended up insulting Great Britain.

Original Author: Noah Karr-Kaitin