The person for whom it was most important to come away with a win last night was obviously President Obama. After a poor (and that’s putting it nicely) opening debate, Obama had to show his base (much like Biden did) that he had a pulse and a desire to win re-election. If that is all he had to do, then clearly President Obama won the debate. The problem is, that isn’t all he had to do.
If making a case for re-election was the objective, early returns are not looking good for President Obama. A clear example would be the undecided voters from Nevada. Frank Luntz, the focus group king, assembled a collection in Nevada who deemed themselves “undecided” going into the debate. Much like what the group at Hofstra University appeared to be, they were past Obama supporters. In fact, one could argue that being asked an admitted Obama voter from 2008 to convince him to vote for him again proves it wasn’t a truly undecided audience. Reactions by the Luntz group were overwhelmingly against the President. After watching the reaction of this group, it is clear Barack Obama did not win over the undecided vote he needs to win re-election.
“Forceful, compassionate, presidential” was how one person put it. A voter who supported Obama in 2008 said of Romney, “dynamo, winner.” Even a non-convert to Romney said “steady, articulate” in describing the Republican nominee. One even colorfully said he felt like he had fallen for the BS of Obama four years ago and Obama himself had been bs’ing the country these last four years. You can’t get more blunt than that, can you?
But an even larger problem for the president was how people judged the responses on issues instead of the style for which it was delivered: From CBS, Romney Wins 65-34 on the economy. CNN’s poll showed a tighter margin, but still a win for Romney at 54 to 40%. They polled on the deficit (59/36) and Taxes (51-44) with Governor Romney winning on both issues. He even came across being a better leader by a three-point margin of 49/46. While the CNN focus group said the president won, Governor Romney edged the President on the important issue of “who offers a better vision for the future” 18-17.
This point is very important: undecided voters are not going to go into the polling booth and say “Gee, the president won that second debate” but rather their going to understand Governor Romney is better on taxes, the deficit, foreign policy, and is a better leader. This is why Team Obama in Chicago have to be worried.
The narrative from the left is going to be (well already is) that Obama came out to fight and it pumped up the base. But the problem for the president is, that’s not going to be enough. In poll after poll, Independents are leaning strongly to Mitt Romney. Flocking towards might be a better description.
What makes it even worse was the fact that he most certainly had the help of (so-called) moderator Candy Crowley. It was clear, by anyone’s standard, that she would stop a Romney answer in order to give time to President Obama. The cry from the left was that Romney got more time in than Obama in the first debate, even if that is blatantly false. Knowing that, Crowley was going to have none of that last night and the clock showed Obama had more talk time than Romney.
But her biggest problem happened when the Libyan question came up. Becoming a part of the debate is the last thing a moderator wants to do, but by interjecting a fact-check (which she would later admit wasn’t even a fact) to help the President is unheard of in debates. While it was clear before the debate that the Debate Commission made it clear what her role was to be, she would have none of that. She was going to Candy-Coat this debate and she did just that. After the debate, Ms. Crowley admitted that Governor Romney was indeed correct. This thus made her as much a part of the story as the debate itself. (It is funny how one cannot find on the CNN any story on Ms. Crowley’s admittance of being wrong in correcting Governor Romney. Funny, I guess, only if you want un-biased and fair journalism, something that is long gone today.)
However, it may truly back fire on Team Obama and Candy Crowley. If the President had been able to just quickly dismiss the question and move on – perhaps no one would be talking about it today. Instead, her interjecting of a so-called fact-check and subsequent admittance of being wrong is now a story. People are talking about that and thus talking about Libya. The media has been trying to hide the story about Libya as much as they can, one has to wonder if the incident with Ms. Crowley will actually give it life.
We won’t know who truly won the debate until we see more polling results. We do know, however, that if we are talking winners & losers that Candy Crowley was certainly not a winner. The bad news for the president is that he isn’t fairing much better. Ms. Crowley violated her duties as moderator and the president has violated his trust with the American people with a track record of broken promises. The substance seems to be what voters are looking at, and Barack Obama has none (and never has). And if the trajectory continues on its current course, Barack Obama will be unemployed (like many in America are now because of his policies) come next January. And the recovery will be when Mitt Romney is in the White House.