Don’t expect a gamechange. (God, is anyone else sick of that word yet?) Here’s why:
- The format does not lend itself to a gamechange type of performance. A townhall setting, Romney and Obama must focus more on the audience and less on each other. That means less digs, less attacks, and more emotional appeals. Very little chance to grab momentum early and hang on.
- Both candidates are awful in this format. Obama tends to ramble in these types of settings and off-the-cuff remarks tend to hurt him the most, leading to his gaffes. As for Romney, it was in a townhall format he said he likes to fire people. Both these candidates are subpar on the fly and this creates a lot of room for error and discomfort. Neither will dominate.
- The middle debate tends to matter the least. The first debate was dominated by domestic policy and the last debate will be foreign policy. This is going to be a mostly campaign message/stump speech type of “debate” talking to undecided, likely voters, selected by an independent organization. Everyone remembers the first debate and the last debate.
The candidates differ greatly in preparation for this debate. Obama put himself in seclusion at a resort to do prep for the past few days; Romney has been doing townhall style campaign events to prepare. Obama will be better prepped than last time, but so will Romney. There will be no winner in this debate.