|The Thunderdome Debate|
His margin of victory for the second debate will be much less than in the first, but I expect him to come in around 55% to 60%.
The Debate Arena:
The debates are designed to be harsh. As Dr. Dealgood put it in Thunderdome:
Now, when men get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two men enter; one man leaves.
Obama will have a good debate. He will walk the stage well. He will personalize his answers, and give short, terse answers rather than ramble as much as he did in the past. He will use humour very effectively. He will defend his first term. He will try to lay out enough of a plan for the next term to give his supporters a feeling that he has goals, has the determination to pursue them, and will do so.
But still, I expect him to come in second.
Obama’s Four Battles:
Obama has to fight four battles.
The first is the history of his first term. So far Obama has failed to adequately tell the voters what happened in his first term, in ways which make the voters in the less than a dozen battleground states understand just what he did as president.
His Failed Framing Strategy:
The second battle is linked to the first. He missed this chance because he and his advisors fell into The Money Trap: they believed that if they raised enough money, they could use it to pulverize Romney with negative ads before Romney gained traction with voters in those states. They hoped to define him as a bumbler, a flip flopper, a lightweight, a man out of touch with ordinary people.
And they succeeded.
Until the first debate. Then everything went wrong.
Now Obama has to battle the newly-risen Romney, and start afresh defining him in two minute segments over tonight’s 90 minute debate. That’s a tall order.
No Plan B:
The third battle is that Obama has failed to give voters in those battleground states enough reasons for voting for him because he knows what he wants to do, has figured out how to make it happen, and it will move the country into the right direction (which most voters do not believe it is going in right now).
In short, Obama bet his whole re-election strategy on demonizing Romney, threw the dice, and failed to present a Plan to voters. Now he has to outline a road map to change the direction of the country in two minute segments over 90 minutes!
The Feather Duster Reason:
The final reason is that he damaged himself so badly in the first debate.
Aunt Entity’s comment to Max fits Obama very well:
But how the world turns. One day, cock of the walk. Next, a feather duster.
Obama came out of the first debate as a feather duster.
And he goes into this second debate as a feather duster.
And this must prey upon his thoughts as he enters the debate arena tonight. Obama will have clouding his mind tonight the words of Aunt Entity:
Remember where you are - this is Thunderdome, and death is listening, and will take the first man that screams.
Political death awaits the first man to be perceived to scream tonight.
He has to show that he is not the clueless wimp that his first debate seemed to show him to be. And to do that in a way that does not offend the viewers.
And to do it in the presence of Romney, who will have the right to answer back. In real time.
Romney has to sustain his first showing. He has to basically repeat what he said then, push his five point plan, hammer the rotten economy and the shaky foreign policies of his opponent, and avoid saying something soulless to any questioner.
And then wait for the post-debate polls.
Once again, the good Dr. Dealgood has the final word:
Right now, I've got two men, two men with a gut full of fear. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... dyin' times here!