Mitt Romney was always going to win the first US Presidential debate. Trailing in the polls, hurt by the 47% leaked video and a reputation for gaffes. Romney was considered the underdog. Underdogs win debates.
Back in 2004, challenger John Kerry, faced then president George W. Bush in the first Presidential debate of that election season. Pre-debate Kerry, much like Mitt Romney, had been damaged by personal attacks and expectations were low. Kerry won that first debate decisively yet went on to barely challenge Bush on Election Day. Similarly the residual effect of Romney being dubbed the “winner” of this debate will be gone by November.
Sadly, too often in American politics it comes down to winners and losers. Not about how the American people can benefit. Amongst all the post debate media any substance from the event gets lost in the ether. It becomes indicative of how little people actually listen to what is being said and how little impact these debates have by election time.
But, just like in 2004, by the time Election Day comes round the entire bump and benefit from this debate will have subsided
This is not to completely negate the fact that Romney did do very well in the debate. He had to. Alongside a worsening economy, it is clear him and his campaign team consider that the three debates are key to any hope he has of winning in November. Yet expectations were so low it would have been a disaster if Romney weren’t being considered the victor. Just by not making a $10,000 dollar bet, calling half the country “entitled” or being Rick Perry he was a shoo in to take the plaudits for the first debate.
So as of today all the pundits will praise Romney and talk about a tighter race, there will be polls that show a dead heat and Obama supporters will panic. But, just like in 2004, by the time Election Day comes round the entire bump and benefit from this debate will have subsided.
This means Obama is now the underdog for the next debate in New York on October 16th. After that debate the dynamic will change again and the pundits will hail that as Obama’s comeback. These debates, this long-winded, terrifying expensive race are all a bit of political theatre really, fun to watch but sadly, largely irrelevant to the American people. The fact is the President isn’t the problem it is the politics.
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