Did Romney’s Debate Win Change Anything?

Before last night, Romney was toast and Republicans were demoralized; now, there's a glimmer of hope.

The following started as a comment in Doug’s “Romney Won The Debate, But Will It Matter?” thread but is long enough to merit its own pace, especially given my lackluster blogging pace of late.

I think, at best, this changes the conversation a little. Before last night, Romney was toast and Republicans were demoralized; now, there’s a glimmer of hope.

If last night’s version of Romney–energized, confident, and more moderate on nuanced issues–somehow stays with us rather than going away to be replaced with the inept guy who’s been out there on the stump the past few weeks, he’s got a chance to gain momentum needed to win in Florida, Virginia, Iowa, and other states a Republican facing an incumbent Democrat with this economy should already have in the bag.  Whether it’ll be enough to make up the needed ground in Ohio, where the fundamentals are less in his favor, is another thing entirely.

As unlikely as the permanence of last night’s Mitt is, it’s much more likely than last night’s Barack Obama making regular appearances.

The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson analysis [“Romney Won by Being Himself (and Obama Lost for the Same Reason)“] is spot on:

Last night’s presidential debate was a study in contrasts, but even more, it was the fulfillment of two wildly held assumptions about the candidates. There’s Romney, the business man’s business man, so polished that his surface has a way of reflecting whatever scene happens to swirl around him. And there’s Obama, the detached philosopher, whose allure has always been his ability to appear coolly separate, even above, the scene around him. So there they were last night, filling out their stereotypes — one polished, practiced in sound-bites, armed with short lists, making a pitch; the other comprehensive but rarely succinct and, somehow, separate.

Mitt Romney won by … well, by being Mitt Romney, and Obama lost by being a caricature of his cool distracted professor alter-ego.

Obama is a wonk who enjoys talking about the details of policy. And, as skilled as he is, he lacks Bill Clinton’s knack for doing it in a folksy way that translates to normal people. Still, he’s a natural politician and tremendously good at making corrections and staying on message. He’ll almost certainly rebound and give a much better performance in Round 2.

For the first time in months, I think it’s possible that Romney can win this thing. But it’s still very much Obama’s game to lose. We’re four weeks out and Obama has a significant lead in virtually every one of the “swing states.” And, not only are very few of the people who will actually turn out to vote persuadable, more and more of them will have already voted as each day passes.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I think it was very damaging to Obama. He looked weak, pissy and distracted. He was completely unprepared. Debate 101: you push your message, you don’t bat down the other guy’s.

    So in a single night he went a long way to losing the election. Democrats should not be kidding themselves. It made Romney seem plausible, it made Obama look as if he was played out and ready to go home. It drained the enthusiasm out of his base and rejuvenated the GOP base.

    Yes, Lehrer lost control, yes Romney lied, none of that matters. What matters is Obama looking down at the podium while Romney looked at him, smiling like the Cheshire cat.

    It was bad.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    To reinforce Michael’s point above, try looking at the “debate” with the sound off. That’s actually how most people see it–they read the social cues rather than weighing the arguments. The president looks increasingly detached and ill at ease. Mitt Romney does not appear aggressive (which seems to be the preferred spin control).

    The “looking down” that Michael referred to appeared to me to be note-taking. The president’s handlers should discourage him from it.

  3. Just Me says:

    I mostly optimistic that Obama’s win won’t be a landslide. I still think Obama has way too big an edge in the electoral college vote.

    What Romney did do for himself last night was present himself as a guy who could be president, and that might be important to people who don’t want to vote for Obama but don’t really like Romney either.

    I thought Obama looked awful last night-and I don’t think there is any way to spin it into something more positive for him. I do think Obama and his campaign team are too smart to let that Obama show up a second time and he will be better the next time, but he still has the problem of defending his record.

  4. Jr says:

    Bad performance by Obama…..but luckily for him, internal polling didn’t budge that much.

  5. MattT says:

    Michael nailed it. For an Obama supporter, the debate was disheartening; for a Romney backer I imagine it was invigorating. Romney’s lies won’t matter as much as they should since most of the low-information voters who make up their minds based on October debates won’t read the fact checks.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    “…Mitt Romney won by … well, by being Mitt Romney…”

    Yes…exactly…Mitt being Mitt…a lying sack of shit.
    But agreed…that won’t matter to low-information voters.

  7. stonetools says:

    This is reinvigorating to Romney supporters, even if Romney did was to pivot away from what the base really believes.
    Does the base really believe:

    1. Strong regulation of business is vital to a market econbomy.
    2. Obamacare should be a model that the whole nation should adopt.
    3. Taxes on the rich should not be reduced.

    No, they don’t. But they want to win, so they’ll overlook these “betrayals”. Heck, just a couple of weeks ago Charlie K. wanted to Obama to go big on slashing taxes and Medicare. Now, Krauthammer is trumpeting Mitt’s debate sucess, although Mitt went exactly opposite to that.

  8. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Debate 101: you push your message, you don’t bat down the other guy’s.

    I would disagree with that. You have to do both.

    Obama’s problem is that his answers are so long and detailed that he can’t get his point out in a succinct, sharp way.

    He needs some one liners. The wonky folks might disagree with me, but he needs some “this dog won’t hunt/There he goes again” type rejoinders.

    Can Obama explain why he should be re-elected in an elevator pitch? No, he can’t. He needs to learn how to .

  9. EddieInCA says:

    Intrade still has it at 67-33 Obama. Until real money starts betting on Romney, Obama still in control.

    We all have short memories. John Kerry was proclaimed the winner over GW Bush 67-25 in their first debate.
    John McCain actually LED Obama during the presidential election.
    Walter Mondale won, by a huge margin, the first debate with Reagan.

    If this mattered as much as we all believe, we’d be worrying about former Presidents Kerry and Mondale.

  10. Fiona says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I basically agree with you, but I also remember a similar performance gap between Kerry and Bush in 2004. Kerry came off as energized and articulate, whereas Bush seemed like he’d just come off a bender. Bush also had that mysterious bulge on his back which led to days of speculation about whether or not someone was feeding him the answers. Instapolls showed Kerry winning by a margin of 61-19, a 42 point spread. The spread between Romney and Obama, 67-25, also a 42 percent spread.

    It’s tough to see your guy get spanked. It demoralizes your team and energizes the other side. But, I’m betting that as some of the snippets are played over and over again, more people will see that condescending Romney was on display in his treatment of Jim Lerher, in his smirk, and in his overall bullying attitude. He played better than he usually does, but he was still pretty unlikely.

    Time will tell. Meanwhile, I bet Chris Christie is really happy he went out on a limb and predicted a big win for Romney.

  11. Rob in CT says:

    try looking at the “debate” with the sound off. That’s actually how most people see it–they read the social cues rather than weighing the arguments

    70% how you look, 20% how you sound, 10% what you actually say, right?

    I hope it’s not quite that bad, but the general point is obviously correct.

  12. RaflW says:

    @michael reynolds: Geez. Mega over-reaction.

    Obama had a bad night. The Town Hall will be much more to Obama’s strengths. And I don’t think Mitt can repudiate his previous foreign policy positions quite so easily or confidently.

    I’m curious to see if anyone of substance looks into what Mitt promised on health care last night. He told the American people that he’d cover pre-existing conditions. We know his 396 word web site ‘plan’ has an asterisk the size of several large states (89 million people had health insurance lapses in the aughts, so would fall thru the gaping crevasse in Mitt’s ‘plan’).

    Can Romney promise that kinds of health care security to people on TeeVee and then have his campaign walk it back shortly after, and not have it matter electorally? if so, then our pundit class (yes, you James Joyner el at) suck.

    Seriously. Lack of health care terrifies most Americans. It does me. My partner had to fight like a dog for policy issuance because he had acid reflux and plantar fasciitis as his denial reasons. That was it. Good god, if you can be denied an insurance policy over two minor, clearly not life-threatening conditions, then Mitt’s claim that the free market can solve the insurance crisis is utter bunk.

  13. legion says:

    I don’t think it was quite as bad for Obama, although he did clearly underperform – good god, Sullivan was about to slit his wrists! It won’t be the cakewalk the Dems were hoping for, but Romney didn’t really do anything _different_, he just did the same stuff he’s done before _better_ and without putting his foot in his mouth. We’ll have to see if this is the dawning of competence for him, or just a one-off good night.

  14. mantis says:

    I didn’t watch. Were there zingers? It’s all about zingers, you know.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    Given the swing states…I think Romney’s path to electoral vote nirvana is still incredibly narrow.
    Even if you give him a generous bump…
    He’s still not going to win Ohio, or Penn. or NH.
    He’s probably not going to win Nevada or Iowa or CO.
    Are Virginia and FL in play? Maybe. But that’s not enough. Even if this debate performance gives him FL and Virginia, he still has to take all three….Iowa, Nev, and CO. Highly unlikely.
    Still…as I’ve typed before…this country elected Bush 43 twice…and Romney is promising the same things. Well…up until last night he was, anyway.

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    @C. Clavin: RCP has 7 too close to call states left. Obama needs one of them – Romney has to run the table.

  17. Rob in CT says:

    I wonder…

    Could Obama pull off literally saying to Mitt’s face “Who ARE you?” followed by a list of differences between debate Mitt and campaign Mitt?

    Or wouldn’t it work for TV. Or is it possible, but not something Obama would do well (something I suspect)?

  18. stonetools says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    RCP has 7 too close to call states left. Obama needs one of them – Romney has to run the table.

    Those polls may change, as the electorate absorbs what appears to be a clear victory by Romney. Maybe an Obama ad blitz can take the sting out of the defeat. We’ll see.

    I think its clear Biden has to win or at least fight Ryan to a draw. Obama needs to come back in the next two debates.

  19. Ken says:

    @stonetools:

    Those polls may change, as the electorate absorbs what appears to be a clear victory by Romney.

    Well, over at 538.com, we can see that if the election were to be held right now, Obama’s chance of winning has plummeted to 96.9%

  20. stonetools says:

    Well, over at 538.com, we can see that if the election were to be held right now, Obama’s chance of winning has plummeted to 96.9%

    Well , that’s good to know but we’ll see if Nate is a confident by week’s end .

  21. reid says:

    What a crappy world we live in if a candidate can win just by appearing confident and energetic. Well hell, he has my vote! Oh wait, he’s still a shape-shifting, lying weasel that would enable policies that would be terrible for the country. Never mind.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    To be clear, I’m not declaring defeat. I can still read the map and the map looks good. But not great, which is how it looked a week ago.

    This is the kind of mess one gets from overconfidence. I don’t think Mr. Obama spent five minutes prepping for this debate. As someone who is regularly contributing money to the campaign, I’d like to not see my cash being squandered by a candidate who can’t be bothered to take a debate seriously.

    The damage is done. Now they need to figure out how to fix it. That’s a lousy place to be in compared with where they were before the debate.

  23. anjin-san says:

    It seems odd that someone as telegenic as Obama did not have his game face on – Obama’s reaction shots were bad, there is no point in spinning it. My early read is that this gets the Romney campaign out of it’s death spiral. Time will tell if the effect is greater than that.

  24. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, Lehrer lost control, yes Romney lied, none of that matters. What matters is Obama looking down at the podium while Romney looked at him, smiling like the Cheshire cat.

    I have to hand it to you, Michael, for your candid comments.

    Where I disagree is that I think Lehrer did the public a service by letting the debate be more free-flowing, where the candidates could fill out their answers instead of the usual glib ‘zingers’ that don’t offer much in substance, but more entertainment to the partisans on the sidelines.

    The one comment I’ve heard on both the left and right is that people certainly have a clear choice in who they want to vote for.

    Obama is the big government guy, the one who will raise taxes, be less prudent in spending cuts, and less observant of states functioning and separating themselves from the centralized overriding power of Washington DC.

    OTOH, Romney is a 180 degrees different in his POV. His emphasis last night was growing the economy by giving small/big businesses better direction and greater reassurances if they choose to risk more personal capital by expanding their business horizons. This has a better chance of creating jobs, which, in turn will produce more taxable income which increases revenue to the government. Consequently, the process intrinsic in Obama’s desire to increase government revenue primarily relies on taxing the rich, while Romney wants to increase it through the creation of more and higher paying jobs. It’s up to the voter which path they want to take.

    As far as lying, I’m sure fact-checkers will take issue with both men. Obama, though, fabricated, out of thin air, about taking a tax deduction for moving a company overseas. He also lied, through omission, when he talked about greater energy production during his term in office, being that the increase was due to production on private lands rather than federal ones, in which production has decreased. Also, his ACA did reduce funding for medicare, impacting medicare advantage plans, through reducing government payments to care providers. And, the result of that could be that fewer care providers will accept medicare patients in the near future. This was glossed over by Obama. I also haven’t seen or heard where Romney has said he will raise taxes on the middle class (like is tediously claimed by the Obama Team). So far, Romney seems to only want to relax taxation for people under $250,000, in capital gains, etc.

    In the meantime, the next presidential debate will be a townhall setting. I’m sure Obama will come better prepared. I remember reading a story where he opted out of a practice session because of watching or playing some game. Personally, I think so much has been made of his personal and overwhelming charisma, as opposed to Romney’s stiff and business-like persona, that all Obama felt he needed to do was show up, casually re-cap talking points for 90 minutes, captivating his fans, and that was it. Romney’s tenaciousness, though, as well as his grasp of minutia flummoxed him. But, as I recall, there were some here who made fun of Romney taking his practice sessions seriously.

    However, sometimes it’s the well prepared geek who masters the test better than the cool, well-liked jock.

  25. Mr. Replica says:

    You know what would put this election in the bag for Romney?

    If he came out in support of legalizing marijuana.

    Could that happen? I doubt it. But, Mitt is the “perfect” candidate to do it as a winning strategy. His base of voters are pretty much willing to accept anything he says, no matter if it goes against their ideology or not. And if Mitt can pick up even more of the low-information vote (aka the majority of the electorate), it would be a safe assumption that the polls would shift in his favor.

    Just a thought.

  26. stonetools says:

    Sully decided not to slit hi wrists and has some advice for Obama:

    So in terms of debate prowess, it was a knock-out. But from the strategic political argument, it was a very canny and dramatic move to the center, if, of course, utterly without consistency or principle.

    So the obvious response to this new Romney is to say: now you’ve gone into a debate and denied you are lowering taxes on the wealthy: prove it. Show us where the new revenues come from or at least which are on your chopping block (sorry, PBS won’t solve the problem). The end of all corporate welfare? The end of the mortgage deduction? The charity deduction? Where is the money coming from? More to the point, you have to provide much more savings in the tax code than Simpson-Bowles, if you are also going to take us to higher-than-Cold-War “defense” spending, as you have also promised. How will that not mean a net shift from the already struggling middle class to the super-rich?

    If I were Obama, I’d focus now entirely on Romney’s new plan. What is it? How is it paid for? What is he hiding from us? And why?

  27. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Romney is a 180 degrees different in his POV from himself just last week…and next week.

    FTFY

  28. jan says:

    In the aftermath of yesterday’s debates:

    AARP apparently doesn’t want Obama to invoke their name any more in his public comments.

    “While we respect the rights of each campaign to make its case to voters, AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign,” the group posted in a statement. “AARP is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates nor coordinate with any candidate or political party.”

    As the media has always played back-stop for Obama in the past, David Axelrod has called on them again, making an appeal to reporters” to make the points that Obama himself had failed to make in the debate.” It reminds me of what Jim Lehrer subtly did last night, when he helped the verbally wondering Obama out, by reminding the President of his desire to have ‘balance’ of higher taxes and spending taxes in addressing our economic problems.

    Lastly, last night was a highly watched debate especially on this site’s Darth Vader station, Fox. 58 million people watched, up from the first debate in 2008 where 52.4 million viewers tuned in. Then, of course, you had your internet streams, as well as clips shown on various blogs.

  29. Jen says:

    The one comment I’ve heard on both the left and right is that people certainly have a clear choice in who they want to vote for.

    Left and right already have their minds made up. Right now, the play is for undecideds and in this swing state (NH) the lead TV station interviewed a bunch who said the debate didn’t do anything to make up their minds.

    I tend to think that if the mess in Syria gets worse, this will be all but forgotten in a week–much less matter in a month when it really counts.

  30. Just Me says:

    The Town Hall will be much more to Obama’s strengths.

    I am not convinced this will be a strength. Obama has handpicked and controlled his questions for a while now and the media has mostly left him unchallenged.

    I think part of the reason Obama looked so awful is that he has forgotten how to defend his decisions when being challenged.

    I do think Obama is going to do better next time-if anything he is going to pay more attention to his body language and sour puss face when he isn’t speaking. I also think he is going to make sure he has counter arguments for the Romney attacks-last night he just didn’t seem to have much ammunition to defend himself with, but with extra prep he should be able to do this.

    I personally think Obama can probably afford to lose in the other debates and still win-as long as he still appears presidential. He just controls too many pieces of the electoral map, and I don’t see any scenario where Romney manages to do well enough and Obama poorly enough that Romney runs the table on all the toss up states-especially since I have my doubts that some of those toss ups are even toss ups.

  31. stonetools says:

    I do think Obama is going to do better next time-if anything he is going to pay more attention to his body language and sour puss face when he isn’t speaking. I also think he is going to make sure he has counter arguments for the Romney attacks-last night he just didn’t seem to have much ammunition to defend himself with, but with extra prep he should be able to do this.

    He couldn’t do much worse. Chris Matthews:

    On MSNBC, talk show host Chris Matthews asked incredulously, “Where was Obama tonight?” He suggested that the president take some cues from the liberal voices on the cable channel. “There’s a hot debate going on in this country. Do you know where it’s being held? Here on this network is where we’re having the debate. We have our knives out. We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in there disarmed.” Obama failed to put any points on the board by not bringing up Romney’s controversial “47 percent” remark or his work at Bain Capital, Matthews complained, while Romney “did it just right,” keeping a direct gaze on Obama as he spoke, ignoring moderator Jim Lehrer’s mild-mannered attempts to cut him off and treating he president like “prey.” Matthews said, “What was Romney doing? He was winning.”

    I don’t think the town planning format is all that great for Obama, either. How good is Obama at answering a town haller’s question with a short, pithy, heartfelt response, a la Bill Clinton’s ” I feel your pain”? I don’t remember him ever doing that.

  32. PJ says:

    Did Romney’s Debate Win Change Anything?

    This isn’t just about Obama winning the presidency, which I think, still is in no danger. This is also about his coattails, keeping the Senate and maybe even retaking the House. If Obama’s win gets more narrow then the other two goals get a lot harder to accomplish.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    I have to hand it to you, Michael, for your candid comments.

    Thank you. I’ve said before that I don’t lie (outside of little white lies). Not a moral stand, just a few years ago got tired of it. Or maybe I just got old.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools:

    But they want to win, so they’ll overlook these “betrayals”.

    They know he’s lying about adopting moderate positions and they think it’s admirable that he’s lying to fool moderates and liberals. They’ll be just fine with it as long as they don’t realize he’s also lying to them.

    @Jen:

    Left and right already have their minds made up. Right now, the play is for undecideds…

    For the last month or so the Romney camp has struck me as absolutely schizophrenic about whether they’re going after the undecideds or trying to motivate base turnout.

    You know, neither James nor Doug comes across to me as particularly happy about Romney’s debate win. Just an observation. Or a question.

  35. anjin-san says:

    But they want to win, so they’ll overlook these “betrayals”.

    My sense is that Democrats are barking up the wrong tree if they put any hope there. At this point, Romney is the right’s guy, for better or for worse. Hatred of Obama trumps any concerns they may have about his adherence to orthodoxy.

  36. bk says:

    @jan:

    As far as lying, I’m sure fact-checkers will take issue with both men. Obama, though, fabricated, out of thin air, about taking a tax deduction for moving a company overseas. He also lied, through omission, when he talked about greater energy production during his term in office, being that the increase was due to production on private lands rather than federal ones, in which production has decreased. Also, his ACA did reduce funding for medicare, impacting medicare advantage plans, through reducing government payments to care providers. And, the result of that could be that fewer care providers will accept medicare patients in the near future. This was glossed over by Obama. I also haven’t seen or heard where Romney has said he will raise taxes on the middle class (like is tediously claimed by the Obama Team). So far, Romney seems to only want to relax taxation for people under $250,000, in capital gains, etc.

    I count several misstatements by you here just on one quick reading alone.

  37. Woody says:

    Agree with Mr Reynolds’ analysis, completely.

    However, the Tumescent Award for Most Re-Energized goes to every TV / print political pundit across the dial.

    After all, it is truly they who have been given a newfound relevance.

  38. anjin-san says:

    I can see a pretty strong Obama ad coming out of this – start with Romney “As President, you are not entitled to your own facts.” Then go to rapid fire clips of him making up his own facts during the debate. There is a lot of material. Close with “Mitt Romney needs to follow his own advice.”

  39. legion says:

    @Woody:

    After all, it is truly they who have been given a newfound relevance.

    And we are all poorer for it…

  40. Lomax says:

    What we saw was style, not substance. A lot of questions were not asked: how about tax reform? What would you do about the Federal Reserve and the monetary system? Would you favor taking the US out of the UN? Would you declassify all government documents older than 20 years? These questions will not be asked by the controlled news media.
    Where was Gary Johnson? Why was he not allowed to participate?

  41. bill says:

    maybe obama just isn’t used to winging it without a scripted teleprompter feed and a crowd that oohs & aahs at his every word? i was pretty stunned at his mannerisms too, looked like he’d rather be anywhere else. there are a lot of people who like a good speaker, one reason why obama is in office- seeing romney perform like a pro will definitely gain him some votes.

  42. Jen says:

    @bill: Good lord. Teleprompter, again? Y’all need new material.

  43. bk says:

    @Lomax:

    These questions will not be asked by the controlled news media.

    And there is a good reason. (And if your post isn’t an intentional spoof, then I am laughing AT you).

  44. Lomax says:

    @bk: Tax reform? The absence of a legitimate 3rd. party candidate? (and a good one) Government documents dating back to the Civil War still classified? The government printing worthless money? Why is this funny?

  45. jan says:

    John Merline of Investor’s Business Daily has submitted the following piece which blows holes into many of Obama’s campaign talking points: President’s case for reelection rest on five claims — all phony.

    Below are the 5 claims heard over and over again in Obama’s stump speeches, his ads, anywhere there is a willing ear to hear them.

    1. Bush tax cuts and deregulation caused the recession
    2. I stopped a second great depression.
    3. My policies are working.
    4. A slow recovery was inevitable.
    5. Nobody could have done better.

    Each point is summarily taken apart. And, the article ends with this terse conclusion:

    To get a sense of how dismal Obama’s recovery has been, consider this: Since World War II, there have been 10 recoveries before Obama’s. Had Obama’s merely performed as well the average of all those recoveries, the nation’s GDP would be a staggering $1.2 trillion bigger than it is today, and 7.9 million more people would have jobs.

  46. bk says:

    @jan: Oh Christ, Jan – IBD is the Daily Caller of “business” publications. Very weak sauce.

  47. gVOR08 says:

    @jan:
    Didn’t we talk a couple days ago about the difference between an interest rate recession and a balance sheet recession?

    http://oregoneconomicanalysis.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/rr_employment.jpg

  48. Dazedandconfused says:

    Obama can’t let Mitt get away with incoherent BS. Chris Wallace took it apart last Sunday with Ryan. Obama has to do it himself with Mitt because Mitt is not going to be doing any interviews with anybody like that, and he’s the one person Mitt can’t dodge. Obama’s needs to know his supporters expect it. No, they demand it.

    Nobody was talking about Ryan’s excellent style and body language after Chris was done with him.

  49. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Obligatory cheap shot … turn down the sound and judge it by who has the biggest t*ts.

    More seriously:

    The Mitt Romney who appeared on the stage at the University of Denver seemed to be fleeing from the one who won the Republican nomination on a hard-right platform of tax cuts, budget slashing and indifference to the suffering of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. And Mr. Obama’s competitive edge from 2008 clearly dulled, as he missed repeated opportunities to challenge Mr. Romney on his falsehoods and turnabouts.

    Virtually every time Mr. Romney spoke, he misrepresented the platform on which he and Paul Ryan are actually running. The most prominent example, taking up the first half-hour of the debate, was on taxes. Mr. Romney claimed, against considerable evidence, that he had no intention of cutting taxes on the rich or enacting a tax cut that would increase the deficit.

    That might say the meme is turning.

  50. Jim says:

    Obama’s single biggest weakness: the manic-progressive base.

    After months of dominating the race, it’s not one night’s weak debate performance that’s his biggest danger, it’s the Left, reverting to their overwrought, exaggerated defeatism, as they always do at the first sign of difficulty.

    Instead of having their stand bearer’s back during the rough patches, when it’s actually needed, his fair-weather supporters ready the circular firing squad.

  51. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: Sorry about the bad link above. Don’t have this technology thing quite down yet.

    http://oregoneconomicanalysis.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/checking-in-on-financial-crises-recoveries/

  52. john personna says:

    @Jim:

    It is pretty sad. I the moderate have to tell them to fight it by fact.

    At Last Night’s Debate: Romney Told 27 Myths In 38 Minutes

    Maybe I’m not emotional enough to be a real liberal.

  53. Barbara Carson says:

    I was sick after the debate. I expected so much out of the president. I still hate Romney and I hope he loses I just want someone to call him out as the lying sack of sh7T HE IS..

  54. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…where was this last night…

  55. Jeremy R. says:

    Reuter/Ipsos national LV post-debate poll showing the the initial impact on the race:

    http://www.ipsos-na.com/download/pr.aspx?id=12047

    It’s Obama/Romney 48/43 with Romney getting a favorably boost among Republicans, Obama getting a boost among Independents.

  56. Mr. Replica says:

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. *GASP* BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

    seriously, this happened.

    Romney On ’47 Percent’: I Was ‘Completely Wrong’

    FISHERSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has described his disparaging remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes as “not elegantly stated.” Now he’s calling them “just completely wrong.”

    Romney had contended that nearly half of Americans consider themselves “victims” and are dependent on government.

    In an interview Thursday night with Fox News, Romney was asked what he would have said had the “47 percent” comments come up during his debate the night before with President Barack Obama.

    Romney responded that sometimes in campaigning something doesn’t come out right and that, quote, “In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”

    The “47 percent” comments came to light in mid-September after the release of a secretly recorded video from a May fundraiser.

    And less than a month ago?
    0:33
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKCEdNxLu-4

    Hey, Romney supporters. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  57. michael reynolds says:

    I watched the debate on a Jet Blue flight from San Francisco to Boston and spent the day at a book sellers conventions — suffice to say, not a lot of Republicans in either group. Everyone I talked to was sick about Obama’s performance.

    The polls will tell in three or four days. I suspect we’ll see Romney pick up a point or two. I would still put my money on Obama. But I heard no one spinning this positive today.

  58. al-Ameda says:

    How many people will change their mind based on this “debate”? None. The key is still turnout. What this does is re-energize big GOP donors who were thinking that Mitt was sliding.

  59. jukeboxgrad says:

    jan:

    I also haven’t seen or heard where Romney has said he will raise taxes on the middle class

    Mitt repeatedly cites Feldstein (he did so in the debate, although not by name), even though Feldstein essentially confirms that Mitt’s plan requires increasing taxes on the middle class. What they both do is play a shell game with the term “middle class.” Details here.

    Quantum Mitt Romney is assuming so many different positions at the same time that this particular backflip of his isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

    I think his strategy is to constantly tell so many big lies on so many different subjects that no one can keep up.

  60. Jeremy R. says:

    If Romney would just be honest he’d admit he’s never in a million years going to even get to a vote on hollowing out the popular deductions the politically influential cherish. Instead what will happen is the easy part will come first, especially since Romney refuses to name a single deduction he’d cut. His corporate, estate and marginal income rate cuts will easily sail through using reconciliation with a 10 year sun-setting window, just like the Bush cuts did.

  61. Mr. Replica says:

    Ugh, I wanted to comment on jukeboxgrad’s post, but it was caught up in the spam filter. Even tho I did not include a link. If someone could rescue it that would be great. (just one of them, I tried a second time wording it differently, just to see if I could bypass the filter)

  62. Jeremy R. says:

    @Mr. Replica:

    Yeah, I wish I had a better idea what trips the filter too. Sometimes I just seem to get stuck in a endless spam filtered cycle no matter how much I winnow down my comment and repost. It was catching up my last post repeatedly. Finally it went through after I changed one letter of my e-mail address.

  63. Mr. Replica says:

    @Jeremy R.:

    What’s weird is that after my post was trapped by the filter, I went to another thread and posted a comment with no problems. Didn’t change my name or email, and haven’t since I first posted earlier today. I think that maybe the filter just doesn’t like the name I used. Who happens to be a popular comedian with a television show. I wonder how he would take it if I notified him that his name was considered spam…? Probably would end up with hilarious results, as always.

  64. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    You’ve heard the brutally frank assessment of Obama’s performance by all the people here who you have been accusing of wearing partisan blinders since the day you showed up. Care to walk that assessment back a bit?

  65. Mr. Replica says:

    Seems this video is making the rounds. People think that Romney cheated in the debate with a cheat sheet. I do not know if it is a cheat sheet he did pull out, nor if it’s against the rules to have one.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhFzZqkQS7Y

    Anyone want to fill me in on the rules for a presidential debate? I just thought the whole not asking each other questions was the rules. Time limits being another, but that rule is obviously ignored all the time.

  66. Jeremy R. says:

    @Mr. Replica:

    No matter what it is it’s not worth focusing on. There’s always post-debate conspiracies about people having earpieces, wearing wires, etc so the media will treat it as such and even more so as sour grapes.

  67. Jeremy R. says:

    @Mr. Replica:

    BTW, my guess would be a handkerchief. Perhaps a rules violation but not worth complaining about IMO.

  68. jukeboxgrad says:

    replica:

    I wanted to comment on jukeboxgrad’s post, but it was caught up in the spam filter.

    I wonder if you’re using the “Reply” button? See here.

    jeremy:

    It was catching up my last post repeatedly.

    Even though you were not using the Reply button, and were including zero links and zero strong vulgarity? That’s weird, because I post zillions of comments and never, ever have a problem in that scenario.

    Who happens to be a popular comedian with a television show.

    Yeah, right. And you probably expect us to believe that you’re not actually that person.

  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    replica:

    Anyone want to fill me in on the rules for a presidential debate?

    There are many rules that are established by an agreement between the candidates, and that agreement has typically been secret (and the 2012 agreement is secret, so far).

    The agreements for 1988 and 2004 have become public, and both those agreements prohibit bringing notes into the debate.

    1988:

    The candidates can take notes during the debate on the size, color and type of paper each prefers. Neither candidate will be permitted to take any notes or other material into the debate.

    2004:

    No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate.

    Via here.

    So is it possible that Mitt broke the rules and Axelrod didn’t notice? Yes, I suppose that’s possible. Stranger things have happened.

    jeremy:

    my guess would be a handkerchief

    I agree. That’s consistent with the fuzzy shape in the video, and he is seen using a handkerchief at one point (at least).

  70. Jeremy R. says:

    @juke box grad:

    I wonder if you’re using the “Reply” button? See here.

    Huh, I actually was using the reply reference to one of your posts. I eventually edited out the link. Thanks for the tip.

  71. Jeremy R. says:

    @Jeremy R.:

    Interesting, adding those spaces to your name let it through.

  72. C. Clavin says:

    I see where Romney has now flip-flopped on his 47% comments.
    This clown is amazing.

  73. john personna says:

    Via Daily Kos:

    Traditional broadcast media: “Romney won!!!!!”

    Social media: “Romney lied like a rug on every major topic he addressed, and here’s documentation.”

    IOW, the social media was more productive, getting the truth out, rather than bed-wetting.