Who Won the Debate: Obama and Romney Tie in an Uninspired Foreign Policy Debate”

Published: PolicyMic (October 22, 2012)

Editor’s Note: This represents instant analysis of the presidential debate on Monday night. For the author’s thoughts in the hour immediately before the debate began, see here.

Here are my first impressions about the third debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Monday evening:

1) The Big Points:

– Both men came across as confident and well-informed … and, most important of all, neither committed any serious gaffes. Each campaign will of course seize on its opponent’s alleged factual errors, and their respective partisans will likewise set cyberspace aflame with their righteous indignation. In the end, however, it is unlikely that anything which was said tonight will be remembered, much less referenced, two weeks hence. Even the eventual “winner” will likely be deemed as such by a margin so narrow that it won’t result in any post-debate poll bounce.

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Presidential Debate Prediction: Why the Foreign Policy Debate Will Be a Tie”

Published: PolicyMic (October 22, 2012)

Here is my prediction for the third Obama-Romney debate at 9 p.m. EST at Lynn University in Florida: I think it’s going to be a draw, plain and simple.

This isn’t to say that I don’t think one of the two candidates will walk away with a narrow edge of “victory” over his opponent by the end of tonight. It’s just that it won’t particularly matter this time around. Context is everything in politics, and the fact remains that neither Obama nor Romney will benefit by the favorable circumstances which preceded the last two debates.

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Who Won the Debate Tonight: Obama Excels, Romney is Testy

Published: PolicyMic (October 16, 2012)

Editor’s Note: This represents instant analysis of the presidential debate on Wednesday night. For the author’s thoughts in the hour immediately before the debate began, see here.

Here are my first impressions about the second debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Tuesday evening:

1) The Big Points:

– Obama’s performance was much, much stronger this time around. He made excellent eye contact, assertively confronted Romney without coming across as rude or bellicose (charges made against Biden last week), and spoke in clear, confident sentences. Even better, he got in a few great applause lines, from his quip about the size of Romney’s pension to his mildly exultant request that Crowley repeat her confirmation about the factual inaccuracy of one of Romney’s charges (on the Libya attack). The worst case scenario tonight would have been him losing again, and no one outside of the most rabidly partisan right-wingers can argue that that happened.

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Presidential Debate 2012 Prediction: Why Obama vs. Romney Debate Will Be a Tie

Published: PolicyMic (October 16, 2012)

Here is my prediction for the second Obama-Romney debate:

I think it’s going to be a draw, which will ultimately work slightly to President Barack Obama’s advantage.

Because the president was widely viewed as having lost the first debate, the proverbial bar has been set so low for him this time that any kind of reasonably energized showing will likely be applauded as a marked improvement. Since he has already debated at that level three times before (during the 2008 presidential debates), there is no reason to believe he can’t do it again tonight, especially now that he’s acutely aware of the necessity. At the same time, Romney’s post-debate surge was so massive that an unequivocal “victory” can only be plausibly claimed if Obama is perceived as having delivered a knock-out punch against his adversary. While that wouldn’t be unheard of – the best example being when Ronald Reagan famously asked Carter era Americans, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” – it is very rare (although I did offer one suggestion as to how Obama might do this in my last editorial). Far more common is what happened on October 3rd, in which one candidate is declared the decisive “winner” because of his opponent’s errors.

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What Time is the Debate: Obama Needs to Unmask Flip Flopper Romney to Win Debate

Published: PolicyMic (October 15, 2012)

As he prepares for the second presidential debate, President Barack Obama can learn a valuable political lesson from an unlikely source: George W. Bush.

When Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004, it was due in no small part to the fact that the Massachusetts Senator was widely viewed as a “flip-flopper.” Even after polls found that Bush was perceived as having lost all three of that year’s presidential debates, he still benefited from the general impression that he was more genuine than his opponent.

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Presidential Polls 2012: Obama Gaining Huge Momentum to Be Reelected in November

Published: PolicyMic (October 12, 2012)

If you’re supporting Barack Obama in this election, here are the hard political realities regarding how the final two presidential debates will impact his chances of victory:

The Bad News:

Because he is widely perceived as having lost the first debate, Barack Obama’s political standing has taken a major hit.

The lead he accumulated after Bill Clinton’s masterful DNC speech and the revelation of Mitt Romney’s polarizing “47 percent” comments has not only evaporated, but been replaced by a deficit. An average of the eight national polls taken entirely after that debate (i.e., which started surveying on and/or after October 4th) puts Romney ahead by slightly more than one point (47.1% to 46%), with the most optimistic projections merely showing a tied race (as opposed to Obama leading in any of them) and the bleaker ones having the president behind by as much as four points (Pew Poll: 49% to 45%). Similarly, the post-debate swing state polls have Obama ahead by at least three points in only two states (Pennsylvania: 49.3% to 44.3% and Michigan: 48.8% to 44.4%), ahead by only one to three points in four states (Ohio: 47.9% to 46.6%, Wisconsin: 50% to 47.7%, Iowa: 49% to 47%, and Nevada: 48.3% to 46.3%), behind by one to three points in a single state (New Hampshire: 49% to 47%), behind by at least three points in two states (North Carolina: 50.5% to 44.5% and Florida: 49.4% to 46.2%), and essentially tied in two states (Virginia, where he is ahead 48% to 47.8%, and Colorado, where he is behind 47.4% to 47.2%). If this status quo remains in place on Election Day, the undecideds lean toward Romney (which the post-debate zeitgeist leads one to intuit will be the case), and he thus loses every swing state except the two in which he is ahead by a relatively safe margin, he will fall behind in the Electoral College – where presidential elections are decided – by 301 to 237. Even the consolation of a popular vote victory will be unlikely, as the trend of Romney posting one-to-two point leads (and Obama not pulling ahead in any of the post-debate polls) suggests that the status quo would have the Republican win, albeit by a small margin.

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VP Debate Winner: Joe Biden Won, But the Big Loser is President Obama

Published: PolicyMic (October 11, 2012)

Editor’s Note: This represents instant analysis of the vice presidential debate on Wednesday night. For the author’s thoughts in the hour immediately before the debate began, see here.

Here are my first impressions about the debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on Thursday evening:

1) The Big Points

– Biden’s message in this debate can be summed up in two phrases: “That’s a bunch of malarkey” and “Facts matter.” In stark contrast to Obama, Biden was proactive and passionate, most notably in his willingness to be outspokenly indignant when calling out Ryan on the alleged errors in his opponent’s statements. The angry smile plastered across the vice president’s face during many of Ryan’s statements, often accompanied by an equally irate laugh, provided punchy visual reinforcement for the strong verbal jabs sprinkled throughout Biden’s answers. In the end, even voters who disagree with the Democratic ticket were at least left with an indelible visceral impression of what Biden had to say about the Romney-Ryan arguments. That’s because the vice president didn’t just say it, but phrased it in especially catchy language that is likely to roll off the tongues of liberals for the next 26 days: “That’s a bunch of malarkey.” “Facts matter.”

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VP Debate 2012 Predictions: Joe Biden Will Be Declared Winner of the Debate

Published: PolicyMic (October 11, 2012)

Some opening thoughts on the upcoming vice presidential debate:

– Just as Mitt Romney benefited from low expectations in the first presidential debate, so too will Joe Biden likely walk away as the declared “victor” in this contest by simple virtue of being the perceived underdog. His main obstacle will be his chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease – i.e., he will need to avoid making any of the gaffes for which he has become particularly notorious during his vice presidency. Should he sidestep that potential pitfall, however, he is likely to impress by simple virtue of the other qualities which he possesses in spades, including his intelligence, sharp wit, and general persuasiveness as a debater (the man did spend more than half of his life as a Senator, after all).

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