Category Archives: 2012 Debate

And That’s a Wrap (On Debate Season)

Last debate until the 2016 primary season (2015)….Final thoughts:

  • Obama had the upper hand being the incumbent. 90% of his job is foreign policy, so he knows it inside and out. That isn’t to say a Governor cannot be strong on foreign policy (Clinton, Bush, Reagan), but the advantage of being the incumbent is huge in this case.
  • Romney won on substance. He laid out specifics, he challenged President Obama on his failures in foreign policy, and he showed gravitas when it mattered. In the end, the incumbent looked more like the challenger and the challenger like the incumbent.
  • Romney worked hard (and maybe a tiny bit successfully) to shed the hawkish image of the GOP. War is the last resort, you don’t win by killing people, etc. At the least, he placated independents worried about a warmonger.
  • Please, do not let bayonets become the new Big Bird or binders. Please, we can’t take much more.

Who won?

  • Draw. Romney won on substance, Obama won on everything else. The polls were not definitive, if anything, they showed Obama “won” on the surface but Romney won underneath. Like the second debate, it won’t be enough to give Obama a boost heading into the final two weeks.
  • Romney looked the part of president, which is what this was about. A tie is all he needed to actually win.
  • PPP had it best – Obama won; but, he lost. Independents are more likely to vote for Romney after the debate, and less likely Obama. In other words, he did nothing to stop the shedding of the independents that will doom him. CNN put it another way: 24% more likely to vote for Obama, 25% Romney, 50% neither. It’s too late in the game.

Best quotes:

  • Obama: “When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors. I didn’t attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel would be unbreakable.”
  • Obama: “Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat because a few months ago when you asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia – not Al Qaeda – you said Russia. The 1980s are now calling and asking for their foreign policy back.”
  • Obama: “Governor, you say you want a bigger military. You want a bigger Navy. You don’t want to cut defense spending. What I want to ask you — we were talking about financial problems in this country. Where are you going to get the money?”
  • Romney: “I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in Al Qaeda, but we can’t kill our way out of this mess.”
  • Romney: “Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East, and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel.”
  • “I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin and I’m certainly not going to say to him, ‘I’ll give you more flexibility after the election.’ After the election, he’ll get more backbone.”
  • Romney: “This is a critical opportunity for America. And what I’m afraid of is we’ve watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, ‘Well we’ll let the U.N. deal with it.’”

I Can Make Up Polls Too

Someone should hire me, my polls are probably a thousand times better than CBS and Quinnipiac. Why is that? Let’s look at their Ohio poll:

  • Obama leads Romney 50-45. The sample: 35/26/34. D+9….nearly double the margin from 2008. Who the heck believes the Democrats are MORE enthused this year and the Republicans will turn out at their lowest point in half a century? Hint: no one.
  • Romney is up 7 with independents….a 15-point shift from 2008…
  • D+9…5 point lead….losing independents by high single-digits…and only a 5 point lead is…wow, not good for Team Obama.

NBC/WSJ national poll has the race tied at 47%. Why is this one bad for Team Obama:

  • 41/53 right/wrong direction
  • 49/48 Obama job approval; 46/52 on economy
  • Only 37% asked where McCain voters
  • 44/38/15 with leaners…independents way way way undersampled
  • Romney +2 in the gender gap…huge.

Romney +2 in Rasmussen; +3 in swing states

Romney +2 in GWU/Politico Battleground

Tied in PPP

Romney +7 in Gallup as of yesterday (another day of the 7-day average will drop off today around noon)

Swing States

Per RCP averages (anomalies in parentheses)

Ohio Obama +2.2 (+1, +3, tie, +1….+5 is the anomaly…) its more like +1 right now

Florida Romney +2.1

Virginia Tie (-5 is the anomaly with Romney +1, 3, 1)

New Hampshire Romney +1 (the anomaly is Romney +3…Tie, +1, -1)

Colorado Romney +0.2 (-3 is the anomaly…-2, +1, +1, +4)

Iowa Obama +2.4 (Obama +8 is the anomaly…+2, tie, +3, -1)

Wisconsin Obama +2.8 (Obama +6 is the anomaly…+2, +3, +1, +2)

Right now I’m comfortable with Romney 261 – Obama 243….Iowa is a tossup (O+1)….Ohio is a tossup (O+1.25)…Wisconsin is a tossup (Obama +2)…the rest are trending Romney (FL, VA, NH, CO)…

Third debate tonight….WEEEEEE

Post-Debate Breakdance

Who won?

  • On the surface, it was a slight Obama edge: 43.7% – 39.7% in an average of the snap polls (CBS, CNN, PPP)
  • In the details, Romney won handily: Stronger leader, 49-46 Romney; CBS Economy, 64-34 Romney; CNN Economy, 54-40 Romney; Healthcare 49-46 Romney; Taxes, 51-44 Romney…
  • The focus groups of Fox and MSNBC both swung towards Romney.

Substance

  • Neither offered much of it.
  • Romney, no clear vision besides “I can fix the economy.”
  • Obama, no second term agenda; no defense of the past four years.

Questions

  • Very few “good” questions. A lot of softballs towards Obama – “I voted for you in 2008, persuade me to vote for you now;” the illegal immigration question; the fair pay question for women; the Bush question. Crowley approved these ones for a reason.
  • Most of them seem planted into an audience that barely registered a damn pulse.

Moderator

  • Crowley was awful. She interrupted, she fact-checked WHILE moderating and got that wrong. Romney was right on Libya and she had to come out and say so after the debate.

Best lines – Romney

  • “When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $5 trillion of deficits over the last four years. That’s math that doesn’t add up.”
  • “You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally.”

Best lines – Obama

  • “When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about: folks on social security who have worked all their lives; veterans, who sacrificed for this country; students, who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams but also this country’s dreams; soldiers, who are overseas fighting for us right now; people who are working hard every day.”
  • “Gov. Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, ‘Here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion and we’re going to pay for it but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it.’ You wouldn’t have taken such a sketchy deal and neither would you, the American people.”

Other

  • Big Bird, “my pension isn’t as big as yours,” binder full of women are distractions. “Look, a squirrel!” moments for the Dems to distract from the fact that hey, Romney won on substance, especially the economy.

Call it a draw. The needle isn’t moving from this one.

Women who looked like Ruth Bader Gisburg at the focus group.

Post Debate Spin

It was AWFUL.

Disrespectful, unprofessional, devoid of substance, facts, and just awful.

Obama lied. Romney distorted. Crowley was awful.

The American people lost.

More in the morning. Until then:

Tonight’s Debate Prep

Don’t expect a gamechange. (God, is anyone else sick of that word yet?) Here’s why:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The Buck Stops With Me; Polls; Ohio

So says Hillary Clinton. “I take full responsibility.” She threw herself under the Obama bus. As Newt said last night, she’s lost the 2016 primary and she lost the presidency yesterday. No Hill-Billy 2016 I guess…

Scattershots:

  • That Gallup/USA Today poll from yesterday has Obama +3 (51-48) in favorability and Romney +8 (52-44). 10 point swing since August!
  • PPP/Daily Kos/SEIU has Romney up 50-46 nationally. That’s a Democratic pollster with Romney at 50%.
  • AMA (American Medical Association) endorses Ryan-style Medicare reform. Take that, Joe Biden.
  • Could Pennsylvania be in play? This is ALWAYS the “gotcha” state for GOP every presidential cycle. Quinnipiac has Obama up 4, 50-46; Muhlenberg has Obama up 4, 49-45. If Romney can force Obama to spend money in the Keystone State and if it goes red on November 6, it’ll be a landslide for Romney.
  • New Hampshire poll from last night has it 47/47 in the presidential race. Not surprising.

Updated 2012 Map:

  • Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado move into the Romney camp. 257
  • Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania move into the Obama camp. 243
  • Iowa (6), Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10), and New Hampshire (4) are toss-up.

Why is Ohio so hard to figure out?

  • Exit polls in 2008 showed 39/33/30 DRI…based on actual results (Obama 51.5-46.9), actual party breakdown was 36.5/32.5/30 DRI…D+5, not D+8. Exit polls are the definition of inexact science. Almost every poll to date has a D+4 or higher, which ASSUMES higher Democratic turnout than 2008.
  • Romney is up with independents in every poll. Obama CANNOT win Ohio without winning independents, not if turnout is D+5 or lower.
  • One cannot assume D+5 turnout or higher, because: Romney is and has more money to spend on ads compared to McCain; Romney rallies are infinitely higher than McCain or even Palin rallies in 2008. Enthusiasm + money on the GOP side = win.

Second Presidential Debate tonight. I’ll have more on that later and a recap afterwards.

Obama weighs on the most contentious debate of our time

Can Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey work out their American Idol feud?

The answer: yes.

“I think that they are going to be able to sort it out, I am confident,” the president reassured. “I’m all about bringing people together, working for the same cause, I think both outstanding artists are going to be able to make sure that they’re moving forward and not going backwards.”

Reminds me of this.

On Good Polls, Bad Polls, and Candy Crowley

Let’s start at the very beginning.

  • WaPo/ABC: Obama 49, Romney 46 among LV. The caveat: D+9. Two cycles from D+8 and one cycle from tied turnout, suddenly, Democrats are more energized than 2008? As if. Obama up 3 with a D+9 translates to more like Romney +2 with a D+6 or even Romney +4 with a D+4 (more likely).

And followed it up with:

  • ARG on Iowa: tie race at 48-48. Last month, Obama was up 7. D+1 (same as 2008).
  • ARG in Virginia has Romney +1. Last month, Obama +2. D+5 (D+6 in 2008).
  • ARG National has Romney +1 on a D+4. Leads indys by 14. Obama cannot and will not win losing independents by double digits.
  • Gravis has Colorado Obama +2.
  • PPP has North Carolina Romney +2. Sample way more Democratic than it will be this year.
  • PPP has Romney +1 in Florida.
  • PPP has Obama +5 in Ohio.

And on Candy Crowley:

  • Both debates are not happy with what Crowley believes her role is in the debates. She is a facilitator, as this debate is more a “town hall” style debate. She believes she can steer the conversation instead of moderating it. No. This is the same woman who called the Romney-Ryan ticket a “death wish.” Impartial moderator my Aunt Fanny.

 

Post-Debate Breakdown (Like the One Joe Biden Had)

Good Lord, last night was a mess. Disrespectful, catty, and unrestrained. And that was just Martha Radditz (BAZINGA!)

Short summary of the debate: Proverbs 29:9 “If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”

But seriously, my longer breakdown of the debate:

  • Biden was a mess…the first 75 minutes, he was angry, disrespectful and smug. Smirking, laughing, rolling his eyes, interrupting, and just plain rude. His last 25 minutes were better – he calmed down, he got emotion and level with this audience, but still…his overall tone was one that turned off a lot of undecideds, especially women.
  • Paul Ryan held his own, especially during taxes and the economy; however, Radditz decided the focus needed to be more foreign policy than domestic policy — why, I don’t know? He handled Biden’s smugness with class, he was calm and respectful, measured and poised, and did well. He was nervous at the beginning, got better as he went along, and ended with an excellent emotional appeal to the audience.
  • Biden’s best moment: arguing for the middle class. His worst: contradicting the State Department and saying the Benghazi Embassy never asked for more security
  • Ryan’s best moment: defending his and Romney’s plans for Medicare. His worst: Iraq and Afghanistan answers.
  • Biden’s best line: “Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something.” Solid.
    Second best line: “Their ideas are old, their ideas are bad.” Equally solid.
  • Biden worst line: “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?” Awkward delivery.
    Second worst line: “War should always be the last resort.” Definitely not last.
  • Ryan’s best line: “With respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.” Got laughs.
    Second best line: “Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.” Adult in the room.
  • Ryan’s worst line: “Mitt Romney’s a car guy.” Awkward.
    Second worst line: “And then I would say, you have a president who ran for president four years ago promising hope and change, who has now turned his campaign into attack, blame and defame.” Pointless.
  • It was a draw on substance; on professionalism, Ryan won by a landslide; on energy, Biden romped. CBS says Biden won by nearly 20 points; CNN says Ryan won by 4 points and was more likeable by 10 points.
  • Watching the CNN undecideds, men responded well to Biden (forceful, aggressive defense of the middle class); women responded well to Ryan (polite, gentle tone and measured responses).
  • This debate will do nothing to move the needle of this race. It won’t sustain the Romney surge and it won’t create an Obama resurge. There won’t be enough time to poll in the field to measure the impact of the debate as Romney and Obama go back on stage Tuesday night.

Romney’s Trickle Down Effect

Romney’s masterful debate performance could bolster downballot Republicans in swing states across the country.

After the debate, he’s now down two, 45-47 in Pennsylvania, and the GOP challenger to Dem. Sen. Casey now trails 44-46. Windfall.

New LV Journal Poll shows Obama up one in Nevada, 47-46. That should give GOP Sen. Dean Heller some more breathing room against Shelley Berkley.

Improving poll numbers in OH, WI, VA, FL could hypothetically help Mandel, Thompson, Allen, and Mack, respectively. Where it needs to help is places like MA (Brown), CA (Emken), MI (Hoekstra), MN (Billings), and HI (Lingle).

House races should benefit remarkably in these states too. Maybe the GOP is going to add to their majority, rather than the conventional wisdom of losing a seat or two.

Either way, trickle down does work. Take that.

Suffolk Polling: We’re not polling Florida, Virginia, or North Carolina anymore, because Romney is going to win those.

If that’s the case, and you put PA as a tossup, it’s Romney 248-Obama 217 (237 with PA). NV, WI, OH, IA, CO, OH, NH are left.

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