I’m back — with a different view of the first debate

The Blue Screen of Death greeted me at the office this morning, suggesting my laptop wasn’t ready for its autumn vacation to end. Nonetheless, albeit belatedly …

I’m back.

It was a good trip, but it’s even better to get back here right in the swing of the election season, with just under a month to go until election time.

The big story while I was gone, of course, was last week’s debate between Mitt Romney and Clint Eastwood’s Empty Chair President Obama. The consensus is that Romney won handily, and the opinion polls show a much-tightened race as a result: Not only is Obama’s lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls down to just 1.1 percentage point, but Romney is up to his highest level in the past year, over 47 percent on average.

Without getting into details from the debate’s exchanges which y’all have probably already read many times during the past several days, I do want to make one observation. I watched the debate in its entirety on CNN International, but not until it was rebroadcast about 10 hours later. Just before the replay began, CNN ran through the day’s headlines — including the belief among analysts and even a snap poll of undecided viewers that Romney was the runaway winner. Intrigued, my dad and I watched with the expectation of a blow-out performance by Romney. I think it’s fair to say we both thought he won the debate, but not as easily as we’d been led to believe.

As I understand it, this contrasts significantly with the expectations set for most Americans who watched it live. From what I hear, the lead-up to the debate framed it more as the beginning of a month-long wake for Romney’s campaign. His lack of a convention bounce and much-parsed comments about the “47 percent” had all but snuffed out his chances, and the eloquent Mr. Obama would finish him off by verbally slicing and dicing him before a national TV audience.

Maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but here’s the point: Expectations matter. If you’re conditioned to believe Obama’s going to flatten Romney in the debate, then watch as Romney is energetic and aggressive while Obama drones on and spends much of his time looking down at the lectern, you’re likely to believe Romney seriously over-performed. Had the pundits beforehand proclaimed Romney as the heavy favorite, his actual performance might not have lived up to it.

Again, I thought Romney really did get the better of Obama. But as we head into the remaining debates — particularly including Thursday’s vice presidential debate, in which Paul Ryan is widely expected to have his way with the malapropism-prone Joe Biden — this is a reminder to be aware of how the expectations game colors actual performances.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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222 comments Add your comment

Towncrier

October 8th, 2012
11:38 pm

“I see that Mr. Wordsmith is back picking apart each and every line Mitt Romney said, and more importantly, ascribing intent behind Romney’s words with (once again) no proof whatsoever.”

I am just wondering what will happen when those who so vehemently call Romney a liar are found out to be themselves liars. Talk about your unintended consequences…

Towncrier

October 8th, 2012
11:44 pm

“If Romney somehow became President, he would start wars with all of America’s allies within three months.”

Oh..okay. Quick, let’s get this late breaking “charge” out to the Washington Post. Wait…no, they probably wouldn’t publish it. So let’s send it to the Huffington Post…wait…no, they probably wouldn’t publish it either. Media Matters? The Daily KOS? No? But it sounds SO true!!! Won’t anyone believe Romney is the next Hitler besides an odd owl?

MarkV

October 8th, 2012
11:49 pm

Amazing how some people write inanities when they are unable to counter arguments and evidence.

td

October 8th, 2012
11:53 pm

Just how low will Obama go to win this race. It appears he lied about his own wedding anniversary. Click on the date and look at the wedding announcement.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-new_michelle018t20080606095724,0,73482.photo

Towncrier

October 8th, 2012
11:55 pm

“Amazing how some people write inanities when they are unable to counter arguments and evidence.”

[The poster writes as he glances away from the mirror].

Linda

October 9th, 2012
12:02 am

Reasonable@11:12, The only good thing that came out of the Dems. & Obama’s Economic Stimulus bill in 2/09, the largest spending bill in the history of the world, was the Tea Party.
Anyone who has a blind trust, which is every member of congress, has potentially an account off-shore.
Remember 5th grade science? Remember photosynthesis? We breath in oxygen & emit carbon dioxide. Plants take in carbon dioxide & emit oxygen.
Carbon dioxide is a good, clean, rare,scarce, non-toxic, colorless, orderless. pure, natural gas. Without it & without enough of it, we all die.
It is not a pollutant of air. It IS air.
We were warned that the globe was cooling in the ’70s, that it was warming in the ’90s & that it was miscellaneously climate changing in the ’00s. They were/are all hoaxes.
Only idiots believe that the US won’t be dragged into a confrontation with Iran, regardless of who is elected president. History has a way of repeating itself.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
12:44 am

td@11:53, Yes, Obama lied about his wedding anniversary at the onset of the debate to try to gain a hand. He’s also lied about at least 100,000 other dates, events, promises, etc. to gain a hand. It doesn’t matter. If he shot Romney in the heart during a debate, Obama’s minions would still defend him, because they are getting his free stuff.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
6:50 am

Amazing how Mr. Wordsmith’s “evidence” is actually “opinion”.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
7:12 am

td

October 8th, 2012
10:41 pm

Nice article. Seems the shark is eating it own guts.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
7:43 am

@Tiberius…”They came in ready to debate the Romney they had created in their minds, not the real Romney”

You know the “real Romney”? WOW you are tied in! Maybe you could help us out…

-Is it the one that was for abortion or against

-The one the believes the 47% comment was “inelegant” or the one that says it was “completely wrong”

-Is it the one that says his plan covers pre-existing conditions or the one that wrote the plan that does not change current law

-Is it the one that wants to repeal ObamaCare or the one that wants to keep the popular parts

-The one that supports stem cell research or the one that doesn’t

-Maybe the one that wants to protect Medicare or could it be the one that wants to voucher it

-Could it be the one that wants to index the minimum wage to inflation or the one that thinks minimum wage is a “job killer”

-The one that says “mandates work” or the one that says they are unconstitutional

Please do enlighten us.

As for the debate it was a listless performance by the President and Romney told a bad story well. As people hear the truth and more debates unfold I think that we will be right back where we started 332 to 206.

Lastly Biden will do just fine.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
8:05 am

jconservative

October 9th, 2012
8:07 am

And Romney won because he moved to the center. We now have clarity on the Romney position on taxes that had been rather murky for the last few months.

From the transcript of the debate:

“…it’s going to take a different path. Not the one we’ve been on, not the one the president describes as a top-down, cut taxes for the rich. That’s not what I’m going to do.”

“First of all, I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am.”

“But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions, so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.”

“And finally, with regards to that tax cut, look, I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the — the revenues going to the government. My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
8:10 am

Romney stated in his Florida secret taping that peace with Palentine was not an option. Yesterday he said he would work for a “democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state…”

iggy

October 9th, 2012
8:14 am

Soledad O’Brien…LOL…another paper tiger.

gm

October 9th, 2012
8:15 am

When will the hypocrites like Linda and the rep party return all the free pell grants, ssi, va, checks, medicaid, stimulus money the state received from the gov.

The rep party are like a buffet they like to chose things that get from gov, if elected Mtt will give their sons and daughter a chance to die in the wars he wants to start while his sons take vacations, no party can be filed with this kinda hate and stupidity.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
8:15 am

Romney’s Most Dishonest Speech Yet

To the extent that Romney recited valid criticisms of Obama’s policies, he offered no alternatives. To the extent he spelled out specific steps he would take to deal with one problem or another, he merely recited actions that Obama has already taken.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/10/mitt_romney_foreign_policy_speech_at_the_virginia_military_institute_was_the_most_dishonest_one_he_has_delivered_yet_.html

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

October 9th, 2012
8:20 am

Finn and JDW omit comments and parse speeches with the best of them. Good thing for America, they got to see and hear the real Romney, not the caricature the Obama campaign and their slobbering media minions have tried to create.

Thanks for confirming my earlier analysis, guys.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

October 9th, 2012
8:23 am

When will buffoons like GM stop posting nonsense about giving back benefits we paid for in taxes that were taken from us by force?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
8:24 am

Romney neglected to note that his own budget plan calls for adding $2 trillion to military spending over the next 10 years. He may have sidestepped this fact—even though it might have appealed to his audience of cadets at the Virginia Military Institute—because, time and again, he has declined to specify how he will pay such a whopping bill. Nor has he specified why such increases are necessary: for what contingencies, against what enemies.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/10/mitt_romney_foreign_policy_speech_at_the_virginia_military_institute_was_the_most_dishonest_one_he_has_delivered_yet_.2.html

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

October 9th, 2012
8:25 am

Of course, GM would actually have to earn a paycheck to see that which is taken from the rest of us.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

October 9th, 2012
8:27 am

Ahhh, slate.com. . . The definitive resource for biased coverage against conservative positions. :roll:

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
8:28 am

Why can’t Romney go into details on anything? Are his ideas so DISTASTEFUL to American voters that he fears he won’t win if he explains them?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

October 9th, 2012
8:37 am

Maybe because,as he said in the debate, that his style is not to dictate terms to the legislative branch, but get ideas and work WITH them, unlike Obama Reid and Pelosi.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
8:39 am

@jconservative…”And Romney won because he moved to the center. ”

Romney won because he APPEARED to move to the center. I think he is lying and there is 18 months worth of campaign drivel that stand in direct opposition to his positions of last week.

As for the taxes bit…he can blow smoke all he wants but facts are facts….

IT IS A 5 TRILLION DOLLAR TAX CUT…20% reduction in rates equals 5 trillion its just math.

Now the question is how to pay for it…he claims he can do by reducing deductions and keeping it revenue neutral. Problem is that scenario depends on a 3%+ GDP growth rate. Someone needs to explain how a revenue neutral tax cut grows GDP 3%.

Last time I checked growth came from putting money into peoples hands that is spent, spending money from the government level or the Reagan model of doing both at the same time.

That’s why the ONLY creditable study on the subjects says it doesn’t work.

Bottom line is that Romney feinted to the center and some people bought it however yesterdays numbers, even including the Pew poll indicate that bounce is fading fast.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/oct-8-a-great-poll-for-romney-in-perspective/

JDW

October 9th, 2012
8:45 am

@Tiberius…”JDW omit comments and parse speeches ”

While I did not “parse” I did most certainly omit. There are far far more examples of Romeny flip flops and lies that I did not mention.

Here are just a few more…again I do admit to the sin of omission…there are lots more

“Prevarication, falsification, fabrication are all familiar tactics that have been employed by Mitt Romney without much consequence to him ever since he entered public life”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/10/09/highly_debatable_the_big_liars_biggest_lies_115719.html

killerj

October 9th, 2012
8:46 am

Hope them pot stickers stuck well,missed a good one kyle,this guy reminds me of governor in chicago,seems to me when no one,s standing behind him to tell him what to do,what a puppet.Go Tea Party.

MarkV

October 9th, 2012
8:56 am

Amazing how some people write inanities when they are unable to counter arguments and evidence.

Example: Towncrier, October 8th, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

carlosgvv

October 9th, 2012
9:18 am

I thought this campaign was supposed to be about substance. When did acting and style take over as main reasons to vote for a candidate?

td

October 9th, 2012
9:19 am

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
8:24 am

Pretty easy. You kill Obamacare and there is your $2 trillion over 10 years for the military. No brainier there. Now if you cut Medicaid and Food stamps by the amount Obama has raised it during his term then you save another $2 plus trillion over 10 years.

td

October 9th, 2012
9:21 am

carlosgvv

October 9th, 2012
9:18 am

Besides adding $80 billion on increasing taxes on the rich, can you explain details of what Obama is going to do in another term?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
9:27 am

You kill Obamacare and there is your $2 trillion over 10 years for the military

Well, I guess it really is a no-brainer. It will now cost more to dismantle what has already been put into place to support Obamacare that it will cost to let it run its course.

gm

October 9th, 2012
9:38 am

Tiberius – pulling the tail of the left AND right

So the 47% that Romney talked about did not pay any taxes, state, local,? you right nut jobs are hypocritres.

Obama will beat Mitt of the primary and Mitt of of the general next time, he will expose the liar that he is

carlosgvv

October 9th, 2012
9:41 am

td – 9:21

That is not what I asked.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
9:44 am

“Well, I guess it really is a no-brainer. It will now cost more to dismantle what has already been put into place to support Obamacare that it will cost to let it run its course.”

LOL…IF thats true then tossing good money after bad is the way to go…LOL

Good one.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
9:45 am

Interesting read:

The “housing has hit bottom” trope is the biggest bunch of public relations horse__ since WMD.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/housing-market-hype-are-we-really-expected-believe-prices-will-rise-high-unemployment

td

October 9th, 2012
9:46 am

gm

October 9th, 2012
9:38 am

“Obama will beat Mitt of the primary and Mitt of of the general next time, he will expose the liar that he is”

Can not be done because the next debate is a town hall format and if he goes on the attack in that format he will look like an idiot for not answering citizens questions. Face it, Romney wanted it more and went after him and won in the only format that allowed him to do it. Both candidates have to be positive in this next debate and the last one is all about foreign policy.

Grob Hahn

October 9th, 2012
10:15 am

I’m always amused when leftists start their “it’s all over for XXXX now” as if walking away from a game in the 4th quarter. As we saw in 2010 they end up waking to news that they were totally wrong. And we don’t hear from them for a while.
Grobbbbbbbbbb

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
10:20 am

I suppose I should be grateful I know the details on what Romney intends to do regarding PBS.

Which costs US citizens $1.35 a year.

MarkV

October 9th, 2012
10:24 am

jtom @ 9:10 pm: “There is no reason to debate who lies.”

Do you have any comprehension of the meaning of the words “ lie” and “lying?”

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
10:37 am

Romney can’t face the kids, either:

Mitt Romney declined several times to take questions from kids in a Nickelodeon special called “Kids Pick the President: The Candidates,” according to the network. President Obama, who participated in the special took questions about gun control, immigration, bullying and more.

http://www.salon.com/2012/10/09/romney_snubs_nickelodeon/

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 9th, 2012
10:39 am

The side that voted for a Presidential candidate whose only plan was “Hope and Change”, now insists that a future candidate be “more specific about his plans”. Here is the plan, we HOPE folks face reality and see what an abysmal failure and empty suit we elected, and vote to CHANGE things for the better.

Romney’s tax plan will grow the economy by getting business engaged again. When they realize that they can keep more of their profit, there will be some incentive to grow and use the money they are sitting on. A growing economy will generate much more revenue. There are so many sources for revenue available to make up any loss of income tax revenue in Romney’s plan, if needed. As some one above noted, repealing Obamacare will bring in about 2 T, increase of oil drilling leases on Federal land, bringing on the Keystone Pipeline, reestablishing Clean Coal industry, eliminating the failed “green energy” initiatives, closing useless and outdated Federal agencies, consolidating others, turning some programs back to the states where they belong, bringing down gas prices, etc.

When we get a businessman that is actually used to dealing with a budget, things will improve quickly.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 9th, 2012
10:47 am

Finn

Check out how prosperous the company that produces Sesame Street is, they are worth Billions. They can afford to put the Big Bird on non government subsidized TV. If the program is as successful as the Dems claim it is, I’m sure the alphabet networks would be willing to bid on airing it. I will not be giving my $1.35 voluntarily to some billionaire corporation to fund Sesame Street.

Add that $1.35 to what I am forced to pay to fund Sandra Fluke’s free birth control pills and condoms and you are talking real money, enough for a Chick-fil-a Sandwich.

Del

October 9th, 2012
10:58 am

There’s panic in Libville.

Hillbilly D

October 9th, 2012
11:05 am

When did acting and style take over as main reasons to vote for a candidate?

Probably when the first election was ever held.

Which costs US citizens $1.35 a year.

Granted it’s small in the grand scheme of things but you have to start somewhere and it’s not a legitimate function of government, in my opinion. If they stopped funding PBS, they’ll become another network, complete with commercials (which they basically have anyway if you listen to those bits at the end of the shows), and they’ll survive just fine. Big Bird will keep right on going. When I was coming up, we didn’t have Big Bird; somehow I survived.

Georgia

October 9th, 2012
11:06 am

Romney was like a Jack-in-the-Box who popped up and exclaimed, “I can fix that!” He was overly animated; ignoring history and proposing the already-tried-and-failed.

Romney’s foreign policy attack yesterday was similarly filled with naive solutions that are oblivious to the realities of the Middle East.

Georgia

October 9th, 2012
11:11 am

I just returned from a two week trip to The Little Bighorn Battlefield. I listened to talk radio the whole time, from state to state. I actually heard a GOP RushPuppy say, “I hope the economy fails so that Obama wont be reelected.” This guy then opened the phone lines and the comments were recalcitrantly favorable, like they were holding their noses and swallowing castor oil. The GOP would bring the temple down around our heads to avert four more years.

I hope the watchdogs are out in force on election day cause I already smell a rat.

kevin

October 9th, 2012
11:17 am

Like many of us who watch the first presidential debate it has not changed anything I did not know. It do not matter who won or lost; I was not looking at the debate to see who would win. What was most interesting to me was the plan Mitt had for America. Nothing…………so I came away with the facts that he can do no more than the current President. The media may say this or that, but the true story will be what will we as citizens get from electing Mitt? That is the questions we need to asked ourselves. Even those who want or think Mitt will make their life better; how, and what about how he feels about the 47% that he will never try to help, including you!

td

October 9th, 2012
11:43 am

kevin

October 9th, 2012
11:17 am

And I knew the day Obama was elected 4 years ago that it was the biggest mistake America has ever made. The last 4 years has proven my views right and I have been a ABO voter ever since.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
12:12 pm

Romney’s tax plan will grow the economy by getting business engaged again. When they realize that they can keep more of their profit, there will be some incentive to grow and use the money they are sitting on.

Economics and business aren’t your strong suit, eh? Only demand leads to capital investment by a company. The only way demand goes up is if people spend money. Both Obama and Romney have the same middle class breaks in the pipeline.

Companies don’t expand operations because they will be able to keep some of their tax dollars. That’s simply dumb. You add capacity when demand dictates you add capacity. If no one is buying the iphone 5, Apple isn’t going to open more facilities and hire more workers just because the tax rates are favorable – they are going to wait until demand ramps up and , perhaps, that will coincide with tax rates being favorable.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
12:16 pm

“When did acting and style take over as main reasons to vote for a candidate?”

See: Presidential Election, 2008; Barack H. Obama, democrat candidate for your answer, carlos