Everyone basically agrees: Romney won last night’s debate convincingly and the poll numbers seem to show it.
If I had to sum up last night’s debate in one word, it’d be boring. Each candidate talked for 3+ minutes at a time, spouting out a long list of talking points and numbers, and moderator Jim Lehrer just had no control of the debate. But, I think that’s a big victory for Romney.
One of the biggest criticisms about Romney is that his policies are vague. Last night, his policies did not come off as vague. Instead, he offered just as many numbers and direct answers as Obama did, if not more. That’s a big win. For the many Americans there who keep hearing that Romney doesn’t have specific policies or his numbers don’t add up, he answered those questions.
On top of it, Obama just kind of gave up. As many people have said, he was on the defensive throughout and his body language from the beginning was poor. His head was down most of the time and he nodded as Romney listed off his rebuttal, even at times saying “yea.” In contrast, Romney was assertive, strong but didn’t come off as arrogant. Yes, his smirk when Obama spoke wasn’t great but I don’t think it was too bad.
But I really do think it was just a bad debate. The candidates spoke for way too long at a time and it was just impossible to follow. Lehrer challenged them on just about nothing and had no command over the conversation. Issues melted together. Just from watching it, I doubt that many people could truly follow Romney and Obama’s arguments. They were actually too wonky. But that was entirely a result of the structure of the debate. Each answer should have been much shorter. Lehrer should have butted in and asked for specifics or pushed the candidates on different topics. The incredibly broad questions allowed the candidates to go off on long tangents. He should have asked specific, fact-based questions that candidates responded to specifically and quickly. He could have facilitated a quick back and forth on something, like…housing! Of course, housing was never mentioned. Neither was immigration. Those are two pretty huge issues but there was nothing on them.
All and all, a big Romney victory. He has to keep the momentum going and tomorrow’s job numbers are extremely important. Obama really needs some good news to pivot away from his debate performance. We’ll see tomorrow.