Who won the debate last night?
This is the major question always asked following a debate, especially one of presidential magnitude. Last night, 67,200,000 tuned in. If you weren’t able to watch or chose not to (shame on you if that’s the case!), you missed out on one of the top debates since they began televising them in 1960. Interestingly enough, the first on-screen debate occurred between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon and forever changed the way the electorate views their candidates. Studies following that 1960 debate showed that people listening to the debate on the radio felt Richard Nixon had won the debate. Those watching the debate on television polled that JFK had been victorious. Looks, demeanor and body language play a major role in modern politics, and last night’s final scorecard was influenced by those characteristics.
I won’t spend any time rehashing the he said/he said of the debate. Replays and transcripts of the words spoken are available across the World Wide Web, which are more than worth taking the time to view. I will not directly provide my personal opinion of who won. The weight of my personal opinion is less-hefty than the final judgments of the viewers as a whole. Think of this as a choose-your-own-ending discussion. Take the forthcoming facts and come to your own conclusion.
First on display were the reactions from the mainstream media and their pundits, both during and following the debate. Twitter, Facebook and editorial news sites were ablaze with opinions, whose authors could easily be visualized tearing their hair out and standing on the ledge of a very tall building. Here are some of the more scrumptious morsels:
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter.”
-Bill Maher of HBO via Twitter (and one million dollar donator to President Obama’s super PAC)
“I don’t know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. Romney, on the other hand, came in with a campaign. He had a plan, he was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive, he was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively, he was going to relish the evening, enjoying it…He (Obama) was like, ‘Oh an hour and half? I think I can get through this thing. And I don’t even look at this guy.’ Whereas Romney — I love the split-screen — staring at Obama, addressing him like prey.”
-Chris Matthews of MSNBC (apparently not experiencing much of anything up his leg)
“Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama’s meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look. Obama looked tired, even bored; he kept looking down; he had no crisp statements of passion or argument; he wasn’t there. He was entirely defensive, which may have been the strategy. But it was the wrong strategy. At the wrong moment.”
-Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast (who titles his blog as “Biased and Balanced”)
“President Obama came in, he wanted to have a conversation. It takes two people to have a conversation. Mitt Romney came in with a chainsaw.”
-James Carville as CNN pundit (and legendary Democratic advisor)
“Get this Obama spoke FOUR minutes longer than Romney did tonight! Didn’t feel that way, did it? That sorta says it all.”
-Director Michael Moore via Twitter
“Romney is relaxed and emphatic, while Obama comes across as a constipated professor. C’mon, Mr. President!”
-Nicholas Christoph of The New York Times
Like I said, scrumptious…
Now take a look at some of the polling that was done following the debate. According to a CNN poll, in conjunction with ORC International, 67% of those who viewed the debate agreed that Romney was the victor. 25% viewed the opposite, saying President Obama had won the debate. CNN’s Polling Director added that “No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that questions since it was first asked in 1984.” Other statistics that came from the poll stated that, while about half didn’t feel more or less compelled to vote for one or the other, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney. 18% said the opposite. Exceeding expectations was the biggest theme for Mitt Romney, as over 80% stated he out-performed their initial outlook. (Just as some extra background info on the poll itself, out of 430 adults polled, 37% were Democrats, 33% were Republicans and 30% were Independents). Even with a +4 Democrat advantage, Romney still exceeded the previously unattainable 60% figure.
Another poll was tallied by pollster Frank Luntz, who took a focus group of twenty-four undecided voters from Colorado, thirteen of which voted for Obama in 2008. Following the debate, Luntz asked questions of the group relating to their feelings on the overall performance of the candidates. Twenty-one of the twenty-four members of the group chose Romney as the winner of the debate. Eight of them said, at that moment, Romney had won their vote. This is the case in poll after poll being released, showing undecided voters being pulled decidedly towards Romney. With most national polls locked in a statistical tie (not accounting for the skew of those polls), winning undecided voters ultimately wins the race.
The left is hysterical following President Obama’s debate debacle. Polls are massively favoring Mitt Romney’s performance, even to the point of gaining the votes of many undecided constituents. The best defense of President Obama’s effort came from Al Gore, who hinted it may have been caused by the altitude in Denver. No one has had to defend the challenger’s performance.
So, who won the debate last night?