Assessing The Debate and a Prediction
According to Real Clear Politics' polling averages, one week ago President Barack Obama was leading Gov. Mitt Romney in the national polls by just over four percentage points. Today Governor Romney edges the president by just under one point – what a difference a weak debate performance can make.
This new momentum is reflected especially in the "swing states" polling. Florida now shows a positive for Mitt Romney. Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Colorado have all inched in Romney's direction and are all easily within the margins of error. Most impressive is the six point gain on President Obama in Pennsylvania – as its polling continues to move away from the president.
President Obama's performance was so bad the liberal pundits had a tough time giving it some spin. His staff was doing its duty, stating that it was "pleased with the performance" and criticizing Mr. Romney for showing "theatrical aggression."
Gov. Martin O'Malley (Mr. Obama's Padawan) was seen on camera wandering around the spin room looking for a camera just to then repeatedly utter his praise as "dignified reserve," it was almost as preposterous as former Vice President Al Gore blaming the lackluster stage performance on the altitude! (Praise be to God he lost in 2000 – could you imagine?)
The talking heads were all critical of President Obama. They expected more from "their" president. They were visibly disappointed at such a performance, almost dumbfounded. Like seeing one of your baseball hero's called out on strikes – three times in the same game.
But don't expect any repeat performances by Barack Obama. The president's handlers know he can't lay two eggs in a row. If so they will have to start packing up the luggage in the White House and updating resumes! Mr. Obama will practice, practice, practice – his delivery, his eye contact, and his body language. They know you shouldn't be able to tell who is winning and who is losing a debate when you have no sound on the television... last week you could.
The next debate will be a Town Hall style forum. The interaction will be with both people on the stage, the cameras and with the other candidate. President Obama will have to look directly into a citizen's eyes and answer a question. He will have to turn and do the same to Governor Romney. This format is especially good for Mitt Romney – he likes people.
I have personally watched Governor Romney handle a Town Hall session, working the audience and from behind the scenes. He is at ease; he looks people in the eye and answers questions directly and personally. It should be another venue for Mr. Romney to show his personality and demeanor with the public. Unless President Obama practices, the differences will once again be very distinct between the two candidates.
I had a fraternity brother email me the morning after the October 3 debate. He wrote: "Eating a little crow. In the primary season I didn't think your guy was capable of doing what he did tonight. The Governor was terrific!"
I think the national polls reflected that he was not alone. This was the sentiment of a lot of people when they shut off the television and went to bed last Wednesday evening.
Mitt Romney is an interesting man as much as the press would like to put him into the "politician" box that he really is a poor politico. He is too honest and sincere. He is more reserved than we like to see in our high powered political candidates. He is a calm, thinking CEO, a businessman – and a successful businessman to boot.
Perhaps that is what we need in light of our current economy. Calm and reason. Perhaps we need a man who has worked across the aisle before. Yeah, I know you can spin Governor Romney's record any way you want; however, he did get things accomplished and with an opposition party controlling the state legislature. President Obama had difficulties working his first two years with single party rule!
Besides that, Governor Romney is just a nice kind of guy. The question you have to ask yourself is: do you want a nice guy who has a good business record – or not? I think, as more citizens wake up and realize there is an election coming in less than 30 days, you will see the race tighten even more. Debates will help Mitt Romney because they are unfiltered information coming directly into voters’ living rooms – with tons of press analysis after.
The debate tonight between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan will be interesting, too. Expect Mr. Biden to be jokingly smug and Mr. Ryan to be a clean-cut technocrat. Vice President Biden will be the guy you want to drink with after the debate and Congressman Ryan will be the guy you want to send off to run your country because he is smart and eager. I am betting another clear choice – we will see.
Like it or not, the debates are shaping the race and changing the outcome. I am glad the correct six percent are watching!