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Wednesday, 17 October 2012 08:00

So He Won. What Did He Win?

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After a convincing and unprecedented win in the first debate by Romney, we all knew that Obama would have to make up a lot of ground in the second debate.  We saw a taste in the Vice-Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.  Personally, I thought Obama would use Joe's performance to recalibrate his own in order to achieve the right level of excitement without going over the top.  I guess that didn't happen...

Obama came out on the attack and Romney rose to match him.  It was an ugly affair, but I don't think Romney had much of a choice but to match Obama's rhetoric and pace.  Of course, all of that is commentary on style, but then again perhaps that's the only reason some folks thought Obama won.

So, what exactly did Obama win?  The CBS News poll shows that 37% of respondents thought Obama won the debate overall, 30% thought Romney won, and 33% hailed it a tie.  It's within the margin of error, but let's give it to Obama.  A 7-point victory still pales in comparison to the 24-point victory Romney garnered in the same poll for the first debate.  It's doubtful even on face value that the 2nd debate will halt or turn around the momentum Romney is enjoying at the moment.

If you look at the "crosstabs" of the poll, you'll find even more devastating news for Obama.  While he barely edged out Romney among people who thought he "won" the debate, it's a completely different story when you go issue-by-issue.  When looking at the other questions within the poll, we find that while folks may have thought Obama won the debate (style), they gave Romney the nod when it came to issues (substance).  Romney won huge points over Obama on the Economy, besting him by over 30 points (65%-34%)! Romney logged similar wins among debate-watchers for Taxes (51-44), the Deficit (59-36), Leadership (49-46), and even Obama's signature territory - Healthcare (49-46).

I would credit him if I could find the article again, but one commenter suggested the result of this poll was like one team scoring all the points, but the other team winning because they looked good in their uniforms.  The Democrats are all out metaphorically carrying Obama through the streets on their shoulders celebrating a "big win".  However, the folks out there aren't going to vote for someone based on how they did in a debate, but where they stand on the issues.  An old phrase echoes in my ears - "It's the economy, stupid!"

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