Debate Reaction

The final debate came and went last night and if you follow me on my twitter, you saw absolutely nothing from me on it. Why? A couple of reasons:

First off, I had the luxury of watching with my class of students with none other than Karl Rove. He debated Howard Dean earlier during the day at Duke and stuck around to watch the debate with us. Of course, we were all focused on the actual debate but it was still very cool to be sitting just a few feet away from him during it.

But, plenty of my classmates were on Twitter during it and Rove was as well. I chose to stay off because I wanted to judge it without the nonsense of Twitter. I thought last night was particularly partisan. The first debate Romney clearly won in a landslide. Obama won the second by a little. But throughout last night’s debate and afterwards, any Democrat or left-leaning journalist I follow seemed to think Obama dominated and any Republican or right-leaning journalist thought Romney dominated. It was split decisively along party lines. It was quickly clear to me that I wasn’t going to get much from reading Twitter and I certainly wasn’t going to add anything to the discussion as well. So I stayed away and I’m glad I did so. It actually felt kind of nice to watch the debate away from social media (mostly – I snuck a peek every once in a while).

President Obama and Mitt Romney during their third and final presidential debate.

As for my thoughts on the debate, I thought it was a dead draw. Obama responded well on Israel/Iran while Romney seemed to do better on China (something that infuriates me – more on that later). I thought the rest of the issues were about even. The polling after the debate seemed to show a Obama victory, but remember my way of judging the debates: the winner is the person who convinces voters to vote for him.

Here are the snap polls:

CNN

Who won the debate? Obama 48%, Romney 40%

Who are you more likely to vote for? Unchanged 50%, Romney 25%, Obama 24%

Public Policy Polling

Who won the debate? Obama 53%, Romney 42%

Are you more or less likely to vote for President Obama?

More likely 37%
Less likely 31%
Unchanged 30%

Are you more or less likely to vote for Governor Romney?

More likely 38%
Less likely 35%
Unchanged 26%

CBS News

Who won the debate? Obama 53%, Romney 23%, Tie 24%

Once again, CBS annoys me and doesn’t have any more info on their polls (or if they do, someone please point it out to me). As for the CNN and PPP poll, clearly it was about a draw. The PPP poll actually shows Romney with an advantage among independents. Thirty-two percent of independents said they were more likely to vote for Obama after the debate while 47% said they were less likely. In contrast, 47% of independents said they were more likely to vote for Romney afterwards with 35% saying they were less likely.

Some numbers point towards Obama, some towards Romney and my gut reaction was a tie. Thus, I’m going to call it a tie until I see further polling. We (and by we, I mean Nate Silver) will have plenty of polls to sort through during the next two weeks. (Image via)

“Who Won” the Debate

President Obama and Mitt Romney squared off in their second presidential debate Tuesday.

Before I jump into the snap polls from after the debate, it’s worth remembering what it means to “win” a debate. It means that voters come away afterwards more likely to vote for you than your opponent. In the end, that’s the winner of the debate.

For instance, Public Policy Polling conducted an instant poll after the debate last night in Colorado and found that 48% of voters declared Obama the winner while 44% of them gave it to Governor Romney. So a slight win for Obama right? Wrong. You can read it that way but that’s not very useful. The same poll found that 37% of voters were more likely to voter for Obama after the debate and  36% more likely to vote for Romney. That’s a tie.

Now, I expect this debate to offset some of the ground Romney gained in the first debate. If that’s the case, then Obama did win. But based off individual polls, if voters are equally as likely to vote for Obama and Romney after last night’s debate as they were before it, then the debate is a draw.

As for the CNN poll that found a 46% to 39% advantage for President Obama, it also is a bit misleading. The poll also found “[o]ne-quarter of debate-watchers said the event made them more likely to vote for Obama, and an equal amount said it made them more likely to vote for Romney. Half said it would have no effect on their vote.” Once again, a draw.

I haven’t been able to find more details on the CBS poll that gave Obama a 37%-30% victory.

The main point is that it doesn’t matter who voters say won. It matters who they are more likely to vote for after the debate. The initial (and likely very noisy) polls indicate that Obama and Romney tied last night. I actually don’t think this is the case – I do think the President won and it will show up marginally in the polls the next few days. Just keep this in mind as you read more polls on “who won” last night. (Image via)

Debate Reaction

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.