A spirited debate that ultimately won’t boost Obama

If President Obama needed a win — any kind of win, by any margin — in last night’s presidential debate, maybe he can claim victory. But if he needed a decisive win in which he regained the initiative by spelling out his vision for the next four years, he’ll have to wait until next week and hope the third time’s the charm.

For Obama did not win such a victory. Personally, I would have called it a draw at worst, because the best, most sustained argument all night came from Mitt Romney, talking about Obama’s economic record, in response to a man who asked the president why he should vote for him again. It was a withering recitation of the missed opportunities of Obama’s presidency. “We don’t have to live like this” and “we don’t have to settle for [insert specific item from Romney's list of Obamanomics miseries here]” were simple but powerful points about what voters overwhelmingly call the most important issue of this campaign. The fact that Romney was responding to a question from a black man, whose demographic has been described as unanimously in favor of Obama, only made his answer more effective.

In snap polls of undecided voters by both CBS News and CNN, Romney won on the economy question by almost a 2-to-1 margin, reminiscent of his debate drubbing of Obama in Denver on Oct. 3.

Overall, those surveyed by both CBS and CNN gave Obama a narrow victory. CBS had it at 37 percent saying Obama won, 30 percent saying Romney, and 33 percent calling it a draw. CNN: 46 percent Obama, 39 percent Romney, 15 percent tie.

In other words, on a night when he needed to regain the momentum, more than half of undecided voters did not say Obama won — and his pluralities not only were at or below his current level in national polls but were also within each poll’s margin of error. This was no thunderbolt like Romney’s Denver performance, which registered the largest margin of victory in Gallup’s history of polling debate results. Yes, Obama “showed some life.” But is this what the Planet-Healer and Sea-Lowerer has fallen to? Showing a pulse?

So, perceptions about the candidates haven’t altered much. Did either land any blows on substance?

Besides the economic monologue by Romney I already mentioned, there were few, if any, clear-cut victories. The Obama campaign will try to make hay out of the president’s sharp line about being “offended” by Romney’s suggestion that he or members of his administration were playing politics with the lethal attack on our consulate in Benghazi. But Obama also kept the issue alive by insisting he’d said terrorists were behind the attack as soon as the second day, when in fact his reference that day to “acts of terror” came after he mentioned the original 9/11 attacks and was not specifically applied to Benghazi. What’s more, Obama and members of his administration still kept referring to the anti-Islam YouTube video and the protests it allegedly sparked for weeks after the attacks; we now know the State Department knew very early on that there had been no such protests in Benghazi. Hashing this out in the press for even a couple of days more does not help Obama — and we’re bound to revisit the issue during next week’s debate, which specifically covers foreign policy.

On energy, both men essentially accused each other of lying about the facts on U.S. fossil-fuel production. National Journal notes that oil production on public land rose between 2008 and 2011, as Obama said — albeit possibly due to policies put in place by the Bush administration, given the lag time between policy making and the effect in the field — but there was less natural gas and coal from public land, as Romney said.

The back-and-forth about Romney’s tax plan covered little new ground, and each candidate can point to a study that supposedly proves his point. About the only thing new was Romney’s hint that taxpayers will have a cap for whichever deductions they choose to use. He emphatically promised more than once neither to raise taxes on the middle class nor to lower the tax burden on the wealthy. Obama could do little else but insinuate Romney would break these promises.

In all, the one big thing Romney did well was to keep the president tied firmly to his record in office, while the one big thing Obama failed to do was sketch out a vision for the next four years other than staying the course — a course, of course, of which a majority of Americans disapprove. Those are the two most relevant outcomes from the debate, and they don’t help the incumbent.

– By Kyle Wingfield

406 comments Add your comment

Mr. Holmes

October 17th, 2012
9:33 am

Funny. In the echo chamber, it’s “at worst a draw.” Everywhere else, however…

The larger point, however, about the impact being undetermined, is certainly true.

They BOTH suck

October 17th, 2012
9:34 am

Kyle

Does CNN do just undecideds or registered voters?

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
9:34 am

92 killed at American embassies under Reagan.

33 killed at American embassies under Bush.

4 killed at American embassies under Obama.

President Obama is right. He has the BEST record of defending our embassies.

Obama won big last night. All the polls reflected just that.

Its Kyles job to downplay it as much as possible but make no mistake.

Obama just assured his second term.

Henne

October 17th, 2012
9:35 am

According to Huffington Post, Obama nailed Romney to the wall last night. I was asleep during the whole thing.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
9:35 am

Does CNN do just undecideds or registered voters?

Voters with a +8 margin to the republicans.

And Obama still won that poll.

They BOTH suck

October 17th, 2012
9:37 am

Kyle

CBS polled undecideds. If CNN does not do the same then you do not have an apples to apples comparison.

Either way it was a draw imo with each side probably having enough ammo to claim victory.

tiredofIT

October 17th, 2012
9:38 am

Romney’s constant flip-flops are becoming more apparent all of the time. The GOP should be embarrassed to be represented by this guy.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
9:38 am

Voters with a +8 margin to the republicans.

And Obama still won that poll.

Notice Kyle will conveniently leave that out.

Wolf Blitzer had to admit that the of the people they polled there were many more Republicans.

And yet Obama still won.

Very telling.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
9:39 am

The GOP should be embarrassed to be represented by this guy.

They aren’t. Not in the slightest.

They BOTH suck

October 17th, 2012
9:40 am

Cheesy Grits

My point is that if CNN is polling registered voters regardless of whether they are undecided or not and CBS is polling undecideds then it isn’t really a good comparison.

I can find where CNN states registered voters but not undecideds, but I could be wrong. That is why I am asking Kyle.

BW

October 17th, 2012
9:40 am

There are no undecided voters…period. They are leaning one way or the other and a debate will not ultimately sway them unless they are complete idiots.

As far as being decisive, we’ll see. It certainly is 1-1 over the two debates. This is going to be about ground game and turning out the base. I wonder if the polls post first debate were more about Obama supporters stepping out on a ledge or if it was genuine support for Romney. I think most people have made up their minds even before the debates regardless of what these polls may say, margin of error nonwithstanding.

Bob Loblaw

October 17th, 2012
9:42 am

Kyle, Romney was playing fast and loose on fuel production on Federal lands. Holding a lease until a company believes it is most profitable for them to begin drilling only raises fuel costs for the American consumer. The Feds locked down on the practice and Romney twisted it to look like the Administration was trying to stop production and increase demand on foreign oil. Romney’s face showed it. He got busted.

Romney used to stand in front of coal plants and directly link them to deaths of citizens of MA. Now, since the Koch Bros. are dumping millions all over America to defeat the President, he’s suddenly all for it.

You can’t believe a thing Romney says. Well, maybe you can believe it, but you can’t rely on it.

ApostasyUSA

October 17th, 2012
9:51 am

Take a $ 69 Billion Clinton surplus. Give a trillion Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, prosecute 2 unfunded global wars, an unfunded Medicare prescription add-on, fire deficity-hawk Treasury Sec. Paul O’neil saying as Cheney told him ‘Reagan proved deficits don’t matter’, keep Al Greenspan as Fed Chief when he couldn’t see a housing bubble mammothly growing till it pops, add a Defense industry and Lobby increasingly addicted to the public trough and voila! It’s all Obama’s fault, case closed.

Why do Republicans get away with being such fakes?

Like when they cried about that healthcare mandate? That evil, evil individual mandate. From where could such a terrible, senseless idea arise? Deep breath. The Heritage Foundation. Yes, a conservative think-tank. And who would ever adopt such a terrible principle in practice? Deeper breath. Mitt Romney.

Please… Conservatives and Republicans are the biggest fakes the world has ever known.
Republicans don’t really care about spending. Republicans only care about money that we spend on education and healthcare (things that actually improve society)…..but spending three trillion dollars we borrow from China on unnecessary war in Iraq…..Halliburton and Karl Marx approved!!

4500 dead Americans and 100,000+ innocent Iraqi civilians’ deaths later and now Republicans care about “life”? I think not…..

They might be able to rouse the bigots and some religious zealots telling others who they can’t marry but the Republican policies of lowering taxes and deregulating have unequivocally failed all but maybe 5% of Americans.

Republicans don’t actually stand for anything, and funny thing is, no one asks them to. Especially their hacks in the payola media, and the people who vote for them.

It’s time America votes in the Democrats to send the Republicans a message; it’s time to get real.

carlosgvv

October 17th, 2012
9:59 am

The question is not who won this debate. The question is how did we come to a point where The Presidency may be decided by who has the best stage presence and most salesmanship ability? How did style come to be more important than substance?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 17th, 2012
10:00 am

obozo said the exact same things last night that he said in 2008 when debating Bruno Clinton, think about that for a minute.

Zero accomplishments, bigger problems.

Mr. Holmes

October 17th, 2012
10:01 am

And again, the clearest evidence that Romney got it handed to him last night? Fox’s blaring headline this morning is essentially crying moderator bias.

Last time Fox was practically doing a victory dance down Pennsylvania Ave. Not today.

Glenn

October 17th, 2012
10:04 am

Of course it will boost Obama . He came across as strong and decisive . The third debate will be big .

Joe the Prophet

October 17th, 2012
10:04 am

ATTENTION GUN OWNERS…Mitt Romney wants to take your weapons..!! He did the same thing is Massachusetts..!!!

He wants to turn America into one big cultist colony, where all you can do is ride bikes, wear black neckties, and worship Joseph Smith. Forget about your Copenhagen, your Jack Daniels, and your daughters. They belong to him now..!!! This is EXACTLY why they ran him out of Massachusetts..!!!!

Gravy Train

October 17th, 2012
10:05 am

Kyle, I am beginning to be embarrassed for you. Your shameless lap dogging is becoming more apparent with every post. Willard got dusted. He tried to bully his way through the debate and Crowley was having none of it. Good for her. Why don’t you explain to us what “binders full of women” are? Why was Willard so red faced when he couldn’t have his way? Why aren’t you hammering your plutocrat master on his lack of details? All Willard has is a vague “5 point plan.” Even my grandma, who has Alzheimer’s can come up with one of those. If the President has a blind trust, how does Willard know about it? Have you gotten your magic underwear yet? Kiss your “surge” good bye. And stop peeing on the carpet or you will be put back in the crate, Willard is refusing to pay for cleaning up the mess.

Joe the Prophet

October 17th, 2012
10:07 am

Glenn

October 17th, 2012
10:04 am
Of course it will boost Obama . He came across as strong and decisive . The third debate will be big .
==================

Romney/Ryan is the weakest foreign policy ticket in American history.

Joe Biden – Senate Leader on Foreign Relations…Al Gore..Vietnam Veteran…Jimmy Carter…U.S. Naval Academy…Gerald Ford…Veteran…..Spiro Agnew…Veteran….Lyndon Johnson…Veteran…!!!!!!!

ZERO foreign policy experience on the Romney/Ryan ticket, but I heard Paul Ryan can see Canada from his house….Jobs don’t matter when America is under attack from it’s enemies…!!!!!!

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 17th, 2012
10:07 am

It’s telling that there are many more “undecideds” at this point who lean Republican than there are those who lean Democrat. Romney can’t make the sale to his base by changing his positions to and fro.

My point is that if CNN is polling registered voters regardless of whether they are undecided or not and CBS is polling undecideds then it isn’t really a good comparison.

CBS found undecideds who agreed to watch; CNN took pretty much anyone registered to vote who would watch and respond.

I’d think both would also skew heavily westward, because who wants to stay up watching until 10:30 and then answer questions after that when they have to get the kids off to school at 6 am?

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 17th, 2012
10:09 am

My take on the debate: Willard does better against an empty chair. So he clearly lost last night.

And people who think Romney has a plan and Obama has “no plan” need to figure out what “plan” actually means. Both have “ideas”, not a “plan”. Romney doesn’t trust us with the specifics of anything related to money, either his taxes or ours. Obama doesn’t reveal everything either.

Joe the Prophet

October 17th, 2012
10:10 am

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin…

October 17th, 2012
10:00 am
obozo said the exact same things last night that he said in 2008 when debating Bruno Clinton, think about that for a minute.

Zero accomplishments, bigger problems.
===============================
President Obama has killed 4 of the 5 top terrorists on America’s Most Wanted list, including Osama bin Laden…that is more than Bush/Cheney…!!!!! What has the bloated Mormon blunderbuss done..?!?!? Except put American lives in danger…!?!?!

Steven

October 17th, 2012
10:10 am

I did not even watch the debate. I do not believe for one single solitary moment that there are any undecideds out there. The undecideds may tell you they are undecided but I really believe they know for whom they are going to vote. So give me a break, these focus groups after the debate are a complete farce in my opinion.

If a debate helps a person decide who they are going to vote for, how shallow that person is. And I must say, we have so so so many shallow people in American electorate. I’m a Republican voting for the PREZ. My party has gone so far to the right where it is unsustainable. Yes there are some things that the POTUS has done or not done that I’m unhappy with but overall I’m satisfied that he’ll get my vote for four more years. My party, on the other hand, needs to come back to the center in the succeeding years. I so agree with less taxation and limited government. My party only sites this when it comes to the Entitlements but they will want government intervention when it comes to wars and the Middle East.

iggy

October 17th, 2012
10:10 am

Agreed. Obama needed to win big and he didnt. Momentum will continue to move over to the Romney side. The debate was a tie.

Joe the Prophet

October 17th, 2012
10:11 am

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY is going to take away my guns, my Jack Daniels, and my Copenhagen…!!!!!!

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 17th, 2012
10:13 am

I’m a Republican voting for the PREZ. My party has gone so far to the right where it is unsustainable

There are people on that side of the aisle who would argue that just you saying that makes you a “lib”.

but they will want government intervention when it comes to wars and the Middle East.

And unnecessary trans-vaginal untrasounds.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
10:14 am

Romney likes to talk about ” apology tour ” a lot as well.

But isn’t that exactly what he had to do when he went overseas ?

He had to apologize for something at every stop.

Including insulting our closest ally the UK.

He would be a foreign policy disaster.

MANGLER

October 17th, 2012
10:14 am

Did anyone else hear Romney say “Government does not create jobs!”. He yelled that over Obama. Kind of destroys his entire job creation platform of “creating” the 12 million jobs that economists say will be created anyway over the next several years. Play it back, he yelled that.

Oh, and if you are a woman who cares about her own reproductive rights and maybe a little bit about parody in the workplace, then I just don’t see how the hell you can vote for an ardant pro-life, why are you at work all day and not making dinner ticket (again, things Romney said).

TBone

October 17th, 2012
10:15 am

Based on the questions asked last night, I fail to see how any of these people are considered undecided. People who stand in the middle of the road eventually get run over. Obama is toast now that Honey BooBoo has endorsed him.

Gravy Train

October 17th, 2012
10:15 am

Not even the RNC mouthpiece known as Fox News is brazen enough to make the leaps Kyle is today. Very telling. All they’ve got is “Willard isn’t who you think he is, and it’s the moderator’s fault.” Just like when Boy Blunder got blasted last week. “Our guys suck because of the moderator” And they wonder why all they have is poorly educated white men to lean on…

JamVet

October 17th, 2012
10:18 am

Agreed.

Team Uppity Muslim is in front (where it EC counts) and did not need to win big and they didn’t.

Team Money Boo Boo still trailing late in the fourth quarter. And their quarterback keeps stepping on his tongue…

JamVet

October 17th, 2012
10:19 am

Gravy, so apparently Ms. Crowley gang banged Mitt Romney?

Wow.

I’m lovin’ this Con Cabernet Sauvignon from Crybaby Vineyards this morning…

Georgia

October 17th, 2012
10:20 am

An poll of an unfocused group of undecideds, unlikely-to-votes and early absentees has revealed that we should tear up the constitution and start over.

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

October 17th, 2012
10:20 am

Next Monday Obama is going to hold Romney down and cut his hair.

RW-(the original)

October 17th, 2012
10:21 am

I’m pretty sure an “act of terror” isn’t just a phrase, it also has a legal definition. That legal definition requires premeditation which precludes a Youtube demonstration getting out of hand and becoming an “act of terror” so obviosly our Lawyer in Chief wasn’t talking about Benghazi.

It was nice of Candy Crowley to correct herself in front of the 6 people that watch CNN after blowing it in front of 60 million the first time around though.

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

October 17th, 2012
10:22 am

The Cons aren’t voting for Romney, they are voting for ABO (Anybody but Obama)

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

October 17th, 2012
10:25 am

Teh quotes:

“Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector; that’s been his philosophy as governor; that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate. You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money.”

ouch

JamVet

October 17th, 2012
10:27 am

Finn, hysterical.

Is he gonna get Candy to sit on Mittens while he clips away?

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

October 17th, 2012
10:27 am

Well, Kyle is showing some gumption by putting out his prediction on how this affects/does not affect Obama’s polling numbers.

Let’s look back here Monday morning to see he got it right.

Gravy Train

October 17th, 2012
10:28 am

If you believe anything Willard says, then I would like to show you some magic underwear and billions of dollars invested in Chinese manufacturing.

How is investing billions “tough on China?” I mean it is tough on the workers, but just how tough is it on the most oppressive communist regime also known as Willard’s chief business partners?

Obama 2012

October 17th, 2012
10:29 am

This was a HUGE victory. Romney continued to flip flop and lie and I still don’t have a clue of what he is going to do to make this country better. He has a “Five Point Plan” that doesn’t tell me anything. I watched this county fall to pieces under Bush and when the President took office it was in complete free fall. I’ve watch over the last 4 years a president get the recession to bottom out and start job growth. I’ve watched him pass historic bills all while fighting with a republican majority (the last 2 years). We are creating jobs and getting the economy back where it needs to be.

Personally, I’ve bought my first home being approved for the same loan that I wasn’t when this country was under Bush. I watched lay off after lay off at my job in 2008-09. Yeah Obama was president but that was not from him. It was from what he took over when he became the President. I’ve watched my same company now higher over 100 people this year alone in my particular department. I’ve watched unemployment decrease. Why in the heck would I want to go with Romney.

More tax cuts for people like me, not for people rich like him. He is so out of touch he is willing to cut funding for PBS. He tells us to get money from our parents. He tells us 47 percent of people (students and soilders and our elderly) aren’t important to him. He tells women they can’t have pregnancy protection all while telling them not to go out and have kids. He tells us the problem with violence is not having 2 parents in the home. I’m working on my master’s and I only had my mom. I’m not out here shooting up the place with AKs.

Romney needs to get a clue and stop lying. He doesn’t represent me or most Americans out here. OBAMA 2012!! Let’s continue the growth of America.

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

October 17th, 2012
10:29 am

Something about Mormons and “binders full of women” doesn’t sound good.

Gravy Train

October 17th, 2012
10:31 am

Anyone else notice how the ditto-heads are eerily silent this morning? They probably don’t get up this early anyway because the liquor stores aren’t open yet.

get a job

October 17th, 2012
10:32 am

Do any of these liberals whining this morning have jobs? Any of them?

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

October 17th, 2012
10:37 am

Do any of these liberals whining this morning have jobs?

No, we are job creators, we give you guys jobs. Now get back to work before I dip into your retirement account.

Obama 2012

October 17th, 2012
10:38 am

@ get a job October 17th, 2012 10:32 am

Aren’t you on the same blog blogging with the liberals? So either YOU also don’t have a job or you are on your job not working. Typical conservative. Don’t worry, you must can ask your parents for money when you come up short from not working.

jconservative

October 17th, 2012
10:38 am

Who won the debate is not the point.

The point is that this election, with this Incumbent, in this economy, with 4 years of trillion dollar deficits, is essentially tied 21 days before election day.

Gravy Train

October 17th, 2012
10:40 am

The “binders full of women” and Willard’s insistence on bullying the President are not surprising if you are familiar with the practices of the Mormon cult. Blacks and women are at the bottom of the chain. Women are expected to be silent and obedient to the “priest” of the family. Yes, every male in the cult is considered to be a “priest.” There is no degree or theological training required. Another mormon man simply has to “lay his hands” on another mormon male to qualify him as a “priest.” Sadly, this is a very true statement. I’ll let them tell you what “laying of hands” means. I don’t roll that way. If only all of us had two rich parents who we could borrow money from, Willard would be the perfect president.

Drudge

October 17th, 2012
10:44 am

No fair – it was 2 against 1…