Free Markets, Free People

Debate: If it had been a prize fight, they’d have called it in the 9th round (update)

Or, as Michael Moore said, “that’s what you get for having John Kerry as a debate coach”.

It appears the debate went pretty much in Mitt Romney’s favor last night, and, as you would see if you watched MSNBC’s Morning Joe, they’ve suddenly “discovered” MItt Romney. I know it must be a shock that their made up Romney didn’t show up last night.


More interesting? There appears to have been a clear winner last night:

According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.

“No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.


While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.

More than six in ten said that president did worse than expected, with one in five saying that Obama performed better than expected. Compare that to the 82% who said that Romney performed better than expected. Only one in ten felt that the former Massachusetts governor performed worse than expected.

Now the poll only reflects debate watchers and not all Americans, but then the debates are aimed at, well, debate watchers, aren’t they?

One of the things I take away from the numbers is the 82% that say Romney performed better than expected actually got to see and judge Mitt Romney for themselves last night and not through the filter of the media.

We talked about that sort of thing on the podcast.  How America watched the debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, when Reagan was lagging in the polls, and apparently decided that night that Reagan was acceptable as President.

Did that happen last night for those that tuned in?

Did Romney get a check-mark beside “acceptable” for the job?

Probably so.  As for Obama’s performance?  Well, here are a few words from his supporters:

  • Commentator and blogger Andrew Sullivan might have captured the collective reaction best with this tweet, “Look, you know how much I love the guy, and how much of a high-info viewer I am, but this was a disaster for Obama.”
  • On MSNBC, talk show host Chris Matthews asked incredulously, “Where was Obama tonight?” He suggested that the president take some cues from the liberal voices on the cable channel. “There’s a hot debate going on in this country. Do you know where it’s being held? Here on this network is where we’re having the debate. We have our knives out. We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in there disarmed.” Obama failed to put any points on the board by not bringing up Romney’s controversial “47 percent” remark or his work at Bain Capital, Matthews complained, while Romney “did it just right,” keeping a direct gaze on Obama as he spoke, ignoring moderator Jim Lehrer’s mild-mannered attempts to cut him off and treating he president like “prey.” Matthews said, “What was Romney doing? He was winning.”
  • Comedian Bill Maher, who takes regular hard jabs at conservatives on his television show and who gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting Obama’s reelection, tweeted, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter” — a reference to Obama’s critics who say he relies too heavily on teleprompters.

Not pretty.  Not pretty at all.

Now we’ll go through the obligatory fact checks that no one will pay attention too.  But the impression has been made.  The only question is, was it enough to tip the election to the Romney side.

And here’s another point to ponder.  If Americans were waiting on the first debate to determine whether Mitt Romney was acceptable, will they bother tuning in to any of the other debates.  Or said another way, was this first debate performance enough to convince them that he can do the job and would probably be better than the incumbent.

If I had to guess, I’d say yes.

And if last night made the undecided comfortable with a Romney presidency,  that should worry Democrats.

Update: From CNN of all places:

It was the biggest question coming into this first showdown: Could Romney seem presidential standing next to the Obama?

The answer appears to be yes.


Also from CNN:

“I don’t think anyone’s ever spoken to him like that over the last four years. I think he found that not only surprising but offensive. It looked like he was angry at times,” added CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, who has advised both Democratic and Republican presidents.

Heh … what, no Nobel Peace Prize for just showing up?!

Twitter: @McQandO
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80 Responses to Debate: If it had been a prize fight, they’d have called it in the 9th round (update)

  • I forget who it was, but some wonk on Twitter suggested they’d not seen so enthusiastic a beating since Paul Reubens and Fred Willard went to the movies together.
    There are those of course who will blame Obama’s overwhelming loss last night on a number of things … he didn’t have his teleprompter…. some will blame his debate coaches … — they’ll blame the moderator…  they’ll say Romney bullied his way to more talk time…(Untrue of course… Obama got a total of four minutes more talk time than Romney did.) …and like good Democrats… they’re going to blame everything but what needs to be blamed for the problem.  Specifically, the message is the issue.  The content.
    Look, I don’t care if you’re the best salesman in the world… if what you are selling is radioactive waste, you’re not going to get a line to your door to buy the stuff, no matter how good a job you do. That’s what Obama’s problem was last night. He was faced for the first time with someone willing to make the case that the policies of the left have failed. And, predictably,  Obama couldn’t defend against it.
    Try as he might… and he did try…he couldn’t make the sale for four more years of failure.  But then again, who could? I mean, look, I’ll give him the Bill Clinton defense here. Nobody could have done a better job with what Obama policy left Obama himself to defend.

    • In the NYTimes fantasy world, they called it a “draw”.
      Clearly Obama had played too much golf in Vegas.
      Obama kept thinking … be the ball
      Romney kept thinking … be the bat

      • Read the comments on the opinions page.  Hilarious.  It must be nice to live in the kind of world where that kind of grasp on reality doesn’t quickly result in you sleeping under a railroad bridge and dining from a dumpster out back of an Awful Waffle.

  • Saw a segment of a Frank Luntz focus group of undecideds in the Denver area, most of whom had supported Obama in the last cycle.
    It was devastating.  They almost all broke for Romney.  AND they were enthused about it.

    • They did seem remarkably pumped.  Call it what you will, listening to them, I think they walked into that room favoring Romney, and it was his to screw up.  He didn’t, and I think THAT’S where their enthusiasm came from when it was over.  I can’t believe, especially the young guy who said he’d voted for Obama last time, that they weren’t really hoping Romney would give them something to hope for.
      Course I did enjoy the Scott Erb guy in the sweater who suddenly found himself smack in the midst of a bunch of people who weren’t going to say “Hallelujah” when he said “Obama”.  He appeared to be at a loss for words, and hopey changitude was clearly not working for him and he knew it wasn’t going to work for the rest of them either.

    • Actually, this is for Looker, too… what both of you say, would seem to back the position Dick Morris took, that undecideds, particularly this late in the game, tend to break for the challenger.

      • … as long as the challenger doesn’t make themselves look incredibly stupid.  A certain VP comes to mind .. not Quayle.

      • Frankly I’m surprised it went as well for Romney as it did.  Seeing him be what I should have realized he is, a very competent business leader, realistically ought not to be a surprise. I’ve underestimated that part of him, clearly.
        Not to throw ice water on the party, I expect he’ll continue the Republican version of Democratic Washington if he gets into office.   Yet for the moment I’m savoring the confusion of the progressives.  This is the sort of ‘shooting war’ the press can’t spin to their liking, and it’s entertaining to watch his more fierce advocates dashing about trying to explain the outcome.  This isn’t really a disaster for Obama, it’s honestly a mild setback, but watching their reaction, and watching them mentally hyper inflate it to be a disaster, and watching them desperately screaming that it’s NOT a disaster is amusing.
        They didn’t expect it to be any contest at all, and the shock effect is a little inspiring.

        • Not to throw ice water on the party, I expect he’ll continue the Republican version of Democratic Washington if he gets into office.

          I agree, for the most part.  I don’t have exceptional hopes for a Romney presidency.  However, given the alternative, there’s no competition,  Give me the slow boat to hell over the speedboat any day.

        • Same here, I don’t have high hopes, but I do think he will be somewhat better than Bush. At least he isn’t full of the primordial noblesse oblige bullshit of the Bush clan.  I think he is very competent and will have good advisers. That isn’t much to hang your hat on since both Obama and Bush were terrible, but at least he might move us away from the fiscal cliff.

          • Trye, Kyle. As I said yesterday;

            I’m no huge fan of Romney.  He’s not a conservative. Not even close. No conservative would have ever uttered words to the effect that “Regulation is essential. You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation.” You either have a free market or you have a regulated market. Ne’er the twain shall meet.
            That said, let’s be honest here… anything to the right of Obama… granted, a huge field… would have defeated Obama.

            and there’s no question in my mind that he will outperform Obama in the presidency. But as I say, that’s not hard.

    • I haven’t watched most of the primary debates and only saw a few minutes of last night’s debate, but from what I was last night, Mitt seemed like Reagan on steroids.
      There was some speculation on whether Obama would “coke up” for the debate.  Clearly he hadn’t.

    • Mitt Romney brought Clint Eastwood’s .44 Magnum to Barry Obambie’s knife-fight.

  • Here’s the deal:  If Mitt didn’t close the sale last night with “undecideds” and wavering Reupbs, then he never ever will, and there would probably be nothing he could do going forward to get them.

    • Of course, the real question will be are there enough undecideds/independents? And will they come out to vote against the “Bama Fo'” voters?

      • Going back to the focus group (which I know is partly anecdotal), you just saw a shift FROM Obama TO Romney.

        • I just wish I could feel comfortable that wasn’t as much of a set up as the average MSNBC news program.
          I am quite eager to be wrong because I really want my box of stale saltines to be headed for the White House come November 7th.  I think a second Obama term is that dangerous for the Republic.

          • I haven’t sat down and thought through whether Romney could in any way be worse than Obama (acceleration of the machinery of a police state for instance), because I live in Minnesota. If Obama does not win here, he will lose big, so I am voting for Johnson. I suggest California and Texan libertarians do likewise.
            OTOH, I am afraid that WJB III is right, and we are not voting ourselves out of this one. Whatever Romney does with Repeal and Replace, it is unlikely to change that there will be more takers than makers as time goes forward.

          • “it is unlikely to change that there will be more takers than makers as time goes forward.”
            Agreed, changing Washington isn’t going to be enough.  A lot of ‘Main Street’ has to stop standing around demanding hand outs.  And baring a hospital stay catastrophe for the country, I don’t see that happening.

  • Romney strapped Obama to the roof of his car and took him for a ride.

  • “No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,”

    I keep reflecting on the spectacle of watching Obama proxies twisting themselves into knots to lower expectations over the last two weeks. Apparently they failed to set them low enough. Or perhap aiming low is just a stupid strategy. This quote attributed to Michelangelo seems apropos:

    “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

    [um… repairing the prior comment formatting. Forgot to switch into HTML and can’t figure out how to delete prior – sorry]

  • The Mittens finally came off. I have to admit, I was worried they wouldn’t and we would end up with John McCain (snore) 2.0, instead we witnessed the first public vetting of 0bama in our lifetime.
    0bama was simply being 0bama: Blame Bush, blame Wall Street, push income redistribution, the answer to everything is more government… What could possibly go wrong?

  • Hmmm…
    Very interesting take on the power of the TEA Party in November.
    I wonder if any Political Scientists (chortle) have reached any consensus on the settled science of that…?

  • “I don’t think anyone’s ever spoken to him like that over the last four years.”


    And it’s about d@mn time.

  • I gathered for Obama’s body language and words that he was dismayed because he didn’t know how he was going to debate someone who was obviously going to change and deny his previously stated position—in effect, somebody who say anything, no matter unsubstantiated, in order to win.

    • And no doubt you have documented examples of those “previously stated positions” that Romney denied.

      Unless you’re just talking out of your backside after seeing Obama get pwned, which is what I’m guessing.

    • Another pathetic example of phoning in the MORON.

    • Riiiiiiiight – “somebody who say anything, no matter unsubstantiated, in order to win.”
      Yeah, okay Tad, whatever makes you feel warm and fuzzy after your man got his clock cleaned.  Though you’re not having to make this crap up, because you’ve believed it all along.  Really not new for you today.

    • Good news though Tad, based on your views I can see you’re financially in a place where you also don’t have to deal with reality on a regular basis.  Do you read the New York Times?

    • Part of the problem for Obama supporters is the continual shifting between competing demonizing caricatures of Romney. Is Romney the “war on women”, “war on the poor”, “war on Hispanics” “heartless free-marketeer” extreme right wing ideologue – or- a flip flopping unprincipled pol who will govern based on the polls. He can’t be both.
      The fact is  Romney is closer to the latter than the former, and he is quite similar to Bill Clinton in that regard. Given the hero status now accorded to Bill Clinton across the electorate, this may be a feature not a bug for Romney, particularly if the electorate concludes that Romney is more Clintonesque than Obama.
      In a divided government and a divided country, there is something worse that a President who will compromise every position and govern by the polls – one who doesn’t.

    • …someone who was obviously going to change and deny his previously stated position…

      Medical marijuana, Gitmo, Afghanistan, drone strikes, starting wars in the Middle East (Libya, with Nobel Peace Prize in tow), states rights (same-sex marriage), no new taxes for the middle class (Obamacare is chock full), cutting the deficit in half, ….
      I could add plenty more.
      I didn’t watch the whole thing, but early on, I noticed that Obama kept laying out plans to “fix” things, begging the question: why didn’t he implement his plans already?  I know, I know, it was Republican obstructionism, Bush messed things up so bad it kept him too flustered to concentrate, it was the altitude, the noise of the “aircrafts” (flown by “corpsemen”) kept him awake all night, Michelle accidentally threw his plans in the garbage, the dog ate his homework.
      When you tell people for months the lie that Romney wants to raise middle class taxes by $2,000, when he has actually never endorsed such a thing, being told that isn’t true doesn’t mean the person you’re lying about is flip-flopping.  (No, I don’t believe Romney’s rosy projections, but that’s beside the point.)
      How much $$ did you get for that little gem, Tad?

      • “How much $$ did you get for that little gem, Tad?”

        Heh.  That was my question too.  My guess is that if one were to search, s/he might find some form of that exact same comment on a great many sites.

      • “How much $$ did you get for that little gem, Tad?”
        You actually think someone would pay for that crap?

    • Project much Tad?

      Obama can’t even write an honest autobiography. He lies about increasing energy that is actually happening despite his policies, he was in favor of higher energy prices before he was against them, he hids all the documents relating to Fast and Furious, he lies about the attacks in Libya . . .

      POTUS has no clothes. He can’t debate, because he’s wrong. On everything. The few things he’s done almost right have been continuations of Bush policy, like Afganistan and Gitmo.

      • Obama can’t even write an honest autobiography.

        “Fake but accurate.”
        He can afford to lie, obfuscate, and hide things.  He’s got nearly all of the media with their “knives out” to protect him.  They make sure that people who get their news from the maim street media are kept unaware.  Focus on Romney’s actions from 30-40 years ago in a front-page hit piece or manufacture outrage over his Cairo apology comment while terrorists kill a US ambassador on 9/11.
        I keep hearing people saying they’ve never seen the media so brazenly act as a fifth column for a candidate or president.  Except before Fox News, before bloggers, YouTube, and the like, one might find, in “alternative” sources, news about the corruption of people like Clinton, Johnson, Kennedy, Roosevelt, but it was easily dismissed as long as the major sources ignored it.  Where’s the proof?  Today, it’s on your monitor in seconds.
        It certainly seems like Obama has been given more protection and support than ever before, but maybe we just didn’t know how much the previous Democrats got.

        • “maybe we just didn’t know how much the previous Democrats got.”

          They got more then was known at the time. Now, it is pretty obvious what is going down if you are paying attention.

          I recall in the gun ebates of the 90s the media slant. Seems so long ago, and a debate we essentially won (with some hold outs like here in CA).

          During Tet ’68 in Hue, Cronkite interviewed the Marine CO, who explained on camera that the fighting was essentially over, with some minor mop up action going on. When the video was played they dubbed in the sounds of heavy fighting in the background, making the Marine CO sound like a fool. Many Marines that fought there never forgave Cronkite for that.

          • “…he Marine CO, who explained on camera that the fighting was essentially over, with some minor mop up action going on”
            That must be that famous “light at the end of the tunnel” theme. You believe what you want, but the military was no more credible a source than the media.

    • So, did you get the talking points directly from Axelrod, or do you have to go to a web site for them?

    • No, Obama was just confused because he could not remember which of his own lies to say next.

  • You all think this was bad…..wait until the foreign policy debate.
    Baracky: “I killed Bin Laden”
    Mitt:       “You also killed Amb. Stevens”    (or something much nicer to that effect. Benghazi is gonna be murder on this SCOAMF)

  • All this talk of high information voters and fact checkers ignores the most basic rule of debating, folks have to like you. This is where Romney shined. Lots more folks like him now than before the debate.
    Trying to micro analyze what happened in the debate is probably a fools errand. The big picture is Romney looked like a winner and made simple easy to understand points. Obama looked like a grumpy prof making hard to understand obtuse points.

    • It’s not like his discomfort level at being so publicly contradicted by someone he considers an inferior (that would be, all of us anyway) is going to improve between now and the 11th.  That’s a life time of attitude showing through there, you don’t just put that away in 7 days.

  • Best one yet – Al Gore said it was caused by altitude change – Denver is all the way up there at @5000 feet cha know.  I mean, to have to have a debate after that kind of altitude change, well, that could frazzle anyone.

    • Note that Air Force One cabin pressure is less than that of Denver on the ground.
      Algore made some sciencey sounding bullsh!t explanation?  Wow!  Who would have expected that?

    • Someone needs to tell Al the Casey Stengel anecdote. Back when the Mets were hopeless and he was their first coach, they did an exhibition game in Mexico City. A sportswriter asked him if the altitude would bother his players. Casey replied “Nah. My boys can lose in any altitude.”

  • Maybe he can get Clinton to debate for him next time. In the meantime the Biden/Ryan showdown will be priceless

    • Ryan’s plan should be to let Biden talk through the whole debate.  Based on what he normally does, he’ll beat himself and Ryan won’t have to say a word.

  • Was I the only one that found the presidential debate last night unfair? How dare they have an open discussion on such topics as foreign affairs, the economy and health care. How dare they ask the president and the governor about pertinent political issues that are critical to the nation’s future. Didn’t the moderator understand that this type of questioning is biased toward Governor Romney and was completely out of touch with what the Obama administration stands for?

    Where were the questions dealing with what truly matters to our president. How dare they not open the debate about community organizing or the art of apologizing? Where was the questions about how to blame someone else for you inadequacies as a leader. They also missed  inquiring about different ways to run up the national debt while cutting our military during a time of war. Plus, I really wanted to know what both thought about the best way to kiss China’s ass while increasing foreign aid to Middle East countries that want all Americans dead.

    But seriously, didn’t Obama look like a shell of a man. Without his teleprompter he was like a deer in the headlight. When faced with facts and statistics by Romney, Obama was only left with rhetoric to defend himself. I have to ask myself this question after hearing him sputter out contrived nonsense last night: does he really know what he’s doing? Honestly, he appeared completely out of touch. He had no answers for the economy, foreign affairs or healthcare. And he seemed not to understand the critical problems that America is currently facing.

    Though I was extremely happy with the outcome of the debate, I was just as scared. I knew Obama was incompetent, but what I saw last night took this to a whole new level. It left me with fear that he is our current president and could potentially be in the oval office for another 4 years. iIf that doesn’t send a chill down every American’s spine, I don’t know what will!

    • Do you believe that he actually read those briefings on his iPad?
      Do you now believe the stories that he doesn’t actually talk to anyone…not BP’s CEO, not Congressional leaders, not foreign leaders, etc.
      Do you now believe the stories that he expected green jobs to sprout in huge numbers even after his advisers told him they would not.
      Do you now believe he really had to be pushed to kill Bin Laden.
      These are all rumors, but they sure seem more believable now.

      • Also, he must have refused to do much prep work – thus the talking down of his debate skills.
        He may come back on the foreign policy area, where he does have some achievements.

        • Well, if you consider the complete Middle East aflame an accomplishment, or if you consider China declaring they own the  seas from Macau to Zamboanga to be an accomplishment, then yes, he has a couple he can talk about.

  • Obama has been overrated since day one. I am willing to believe that he is actually intelligent and capable, but his personal history doesn’t show any evidence of anything more than mediocrity. Potential, perhaps, but nothing more than average accomplishment
    He has never in his life had to perform under pressure, not even as President. This debate was one of the few instances of his having to operate under pressure, and he failed. And he can’t blame this one on Bush.
    He is an example of the result of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. Editor, for example , of the Harvard Law Review, but not expected to actually exhibit any legal expertise like the white editors were. Elected to the US Senate, but not expected to do anything but vote “present” and follow the directions of the white leadership. Responsibility or accountability? Never.

    • He did help me believe in the American dream that even I could be President.  Only because I figure it would be hard for me to be worse.

    • That’s all right, he has something Romney doesn’t have – entire departments of the government who will create fake numbers for him at need.   After all, we can always revise those numbers in a couple of months, after he’s been re-elected of course.
      ” (Nov 9th) September’s numbers weren’t as good as originally reported….the unexpected change indicates actual unemployment for September remained in the 8% range and….”

  • The high-speed centrifuge that is the Mushroom Media in spin mode…
    Note the picture.

    • Ah, yes, the temple to Obama.  That photo always makes me wonder if he has an “I love me” wall in the Oval Office (and probably the dining room, the bed room, the study, the bowling alley…).
      For those who aren’t familiar with the “I love me” wall term – it’s the wall/shelf in a cube or office where the occupant has hung, stacked or displayed all the awards for various (presumably successful) projects they’ve been involved with in the course of their business career.   In Obama’s case, it would be mostly pictures of him (like the one in the link…gag, barf), since he’s accomplished very little other than driving an already high debt into the upper atmosphere.  Oh, and his well deserved Nobel Prize, of course.

  • Today I heard on NPR that Romney actually lost the debate in the eyes of women because he was too aggressive and dominating. Evidently our new nanny state exists to care for our Wimp In Chief. After all, who wants a leader who will strongly and vigorously pursue the interests of the American people.

  • “It was the biggest question coming into this first showdown: Could Romney seem presidential standing next to the Obama?
    The answer appears to be yes.”

    The media’s tact now is that Romney won the debate because his delivery and poor tired overworked Obama wasn’t up to it.  It wasn’t lost on the content of the remarks is the implication.