Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why Mitt Romney will win the second debate

The Thunderdome Debate
The Cat forecasts that once the post-debate polls are in hand some time tomorrow, Romney will be seen by most Americans as having won both the two debates.

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.

His History:
Aunt Entity

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.

Think about it.

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!


  1. Sad commentary. on what may be current reality
    Its all optics.. all poll related.. who grins the most ?

    Pathological liar vs incumbent,
    who's still dealing with the Bush Residue
    among other issues..

    Really now.. who do you want to have the nuclear war codes ?
    I get the impression you see or accept Romney as the inevitable 'winner'

    That's like accepting Stephen Harper... as being good for Canada

    Both are lamentable.... toxic ... viral ...
    laughable if they just weren't so damned dangerous
    to life on this planet

    1. So who's the pathological liar?


  2. Silver of fivethirtyeight's latest post:

    Heading into the second presidential debate, the FiveThirtyEight forecast still showed Mr. Obama as a modest favorite, with about a 2-in-3 chance of winning the election and just over a 1 percent lead in the popular vote.

    But historically, the second presidential debate has moved the numbers by about 2.5 percentage points in one direction or another.

    If that gain were in Mr. Obama’s favor, he would re-establish enough of a lead that there would be little doubt about who was ahead.

    Another shift toward Mr. Romney, however, and he would probably lead in most national and enough swing-state polls to show him on a path to 270 electoral votes.

  3. The Keystone GarterOctober 16, 2012 7:28 pm

    Thunderdome is methane. The point is the genesis of law doesn't need the death pently; can used a sliding scale. I'm happy Obama mentions mental illness. I was angry earlier about not having tylenol. I wouldn't have been able to be a good trigger pusher until I got tylenol/universal-care.

  4. The Keystone GarterOctober 16, 2012 7:38 pm

    Obama mentioned tax cuts take away from education budget. Clinton made the compromise to deregulate finance for education investments. It was about break-even in retrospect. Raising taxes on their high Gini (inequality) rich and getting education spending is best. Romney just said gvmt doesn't create ojbs. I just read MIT papers funded by NIH grants, that will lead to pandemic prevention companies and plastics products down the road. But maybe funding cheapie microinjection molding is better than other more expensive plastics manipulations.

  5. CNN instant poll shows Obama 46% (what I thought he would get), but shows Romney 39% and I presume the balance of 15% thought it was a draw.

    So one way to look at it was that Romney held his own with a majority thinking he won or drew the match; while Obama did well with a majority thinking he won or dre the match.

    No knockout blow for Obama, nor for Romney.

    So my conclusion remains.

  6. CNN also mentioned repeatedly last night that the sampling they used for that poll was about +8 Republican from the general population.

    So even a skewed to the right sample, Obama was seen as the winner of last night's debate.

    Did you watch the debate? Because I'd be very curious if you did and left with the sense that "Romney won it."

    Because no one else is saying that, not even the right-wing who are instead picking nits over the parsing of statements.

    Two moments will live on from this debate.

    1) Romney's overreach - with near giddiness - at trying to exploit the deaths in Benghazi


    2) His "Binders of Women" statement, which not only displayed his misogyny but also provided a stark, clear example of him lying about the facts of the situation, which may very quickly become the Day 2 story of the debate.

    Neither of those are issues Romney wants to be talking about the day after the debate.

    So, again, who won the debate?

  7. Anon, I suspect that Romney won because he once more showed that he was as presidential as the President. This is a continuation of his first debate rebuttal of months and months of attacks by the Obama team to portray him as unfit for that office.

    As for who scored most points during Debate 2, I would give that victory to Obama.

    As for fallout issues, Romney's insensitivity on the women binders issue will linger far longer than Romney wished,

    The sleeper for the next week and a half or so is the Benghazi incident: Obama failed to put that to rest; Crowley misspoke on his initial comments; and it will be front and centre of Debate 3 on foreign policy, second only to Israel. Obama has not yet provided an adequate answer to Romney's framing of his administration's policy as reactive, ineffective and weak. How Obama does this will be framing - he started with his forceful statement about killing Bin Laden and other leaders, but this needs development.

    Obama supporters can take heart that Obama did his homework; he had snappy sound bites; and mostly stood up to Romney when Romney tried to psych him out.

    If the audience had not been muzzled, it would have been a disaster for Romney and difficult for Obama. Having a muzzled audience transformed a town house into a fake town house meeting. It was simply the same format as Debate 1 but with a stronger moderator, and the ability to pace. This town house charade format should be dispensed with.

    The format of Debate 3 - with both sitting at a table - ensures a lower key d debate: sitting diminishes the energy and aggression of speakers. This should work to Obama's advantage next week.

  8. These were small, tactical victories for Obama though. Although snap polls conducted by CNN gave Obama a win, the underlying numbers for him were bad -- 58 to 40 per cent in Romney's favour on the economy, 49 to 46 per cent on health care, 51 to 44 per cent on taxes, 59 to 36 per cent on the deficit.

  9. From Daily Kos:

    From twitter, first CBS:
    BREAKING: CBS NEWS INSTANT POLL Who won debate? OBAMA: 37%; ROMNEY: 30%, TIE: 33%

    From PPP:
    Obama's winning our post-debate snap poll in Colorado. We should have full results between 11:15 and 11:30

    No idea about the sample from CBS. In past years the snap polls were of everyone, not just undecided (which at this point means people are lying)

    It is really important to note that media consensus often changes these results. In 2000 and in 2004 the initial impression was changed in the next 48 hours.

    Note the % who called it a draw.


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