Thursday, October 4, 2012

Romney Seen as Winner of First Presidential Debate

I had the chance to watch the debate last night.  Here are my thoughts.

Historically challengers prevail over incumbent Presidents during the first of the series of presidential debates.  Last night was no exception.  I thought President Obama was on the defensive and an unfortunate character trait - testiness when confronted - was on full display.  Visual appearances are so important in those types of debates and the President fell down in that regard.  If one listened to the debate on the radio, I would imagine the debate would have been scored fairly even.  But television is how people get their information these days so the visual is as important as what is being said.
Jim Lehrer, of PBS, Moderator
of first Obama-Romney debate

The post-debate analysis was even worse for President Obama than the actual debate.  Outside of the hard-core Democratic spinsters, almost everyone else concluded Romney was the winner.  Perception often gets altered by post-debate discussions.  Romney's marginal debate win, thus, becomes a huge win.  Perception is reality when it comes to politics.

I watched the CNN feed of the debate.  At the bottom of the screen was a running graph showing Colorado undecided women and men voters turning knobs pro and con to things they heard during the debate.  President Obama usually did better with women, but you could tell the issues that sparked female support - those that involved government taking a bigger role in such things health care and education.  Colorado men on the other hand responded more positively to Romney's plea for more limited government and cutting taxes.  Despite all the nonsense about the Republicans' "War on Women," the fact is on social issues women, things like abortion, and government requiring private insurance coverage to include contraception, women are every bit as conservative as men if not more so. 

The gender gap isn't because of differences between the sexes on social issues.  Rather it is because of stark differences between women and men when it comes to economic issues.  Polls consistently show that women want government, including the federal government, to play a larger role in dealing with issues like health care, education and employment.  Men, on the other hand, tend to favor cutting the size of government and reducing taxes.   That is the reason for the gender gap.   Although the emphasis is on the problem Republicans have getting the support of women, in particular single females, Democrats also struggle to get male voters. The gender gap runs both ways.

At the start of the debate, I watched the ABC feed on my computer.  They had twitter comments running at the bottom of the screen while the candidates were talking.  I detest that.  So many of the comments are just silly, if not idiotic, and distract from the serious issues the candidates are talking about.

A quick note on the moderator, Jim Lehrer.  Earlier in the debate Romney and President Obama began to ignore time limits and limits on rebuttals.  Lehrer tried in vain to enforce the rules and quickly gave up.  I fully expect the next moderator of a presidential debate, Candy Crowley of CNN, to enforce much more strictly the rules, including possibly turning off microphones when candidates speak over the limit.

Here is information on the Vice Presidential debate and the two remaining Presidential debates.

Topic: Foreign and domestic policy
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Centre College in Danville, Kentucky (Tickets)
Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan
Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)

Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)

Topic: Foreign policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Monday, October 22, 2012
Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (Tickets)
Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)

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