I’m not worried about tonight’s debate — not because I don’t understand the stakes or because I’m overconfident regarding Mitt’s performance, but because I feel like I already know what will happen. For those who can’t watch tonight or have to go to sleep early, here’s my pre-debte, post-debate assessment.
Mitt did well: The experience of twenty-plus primary debates served him well. He had a good case to make, made it well, and landed several serious blows on the President, including a one-liner or two that will have enduring life on YouTube. For those who’ve had their opinions colored primarily by Obama’s (and the Media’s) relentless demonization, they saw more than enough to reconsider. Mitt won the debate. Not by much, but he won.
Obama was eloquent on defense: Turns out that Obama doesn’t have to rely on a teleprompter — a lesson John McCain learned in 2008. The President didn’t do as well in 2012 in 2008, but primarily because he has an actual record to defend. His answers on Libya were incoherent. But few politicians are better at division and distraction than Barack Obama, and he certainly scored enough points to cheer his base.
There were too many questions on process and not enough on substance: The Middle East is on fire, our troops are dying at the hands of our supposed allies, the economy has slowed to a crawl, and we spent entirely too much time talking about speeches, alleged gaffes, and campaign minutiae.
Republican pollsters John McLaughlin and Jim McLaughlin argue today that the skewed demographics of voters in most polls mean that Romney won’t pull ahead in swing states:
Tonight Mitt Romney could give the most effective debate performance since Ronald Reagan out debated President Carter, or even since Abraham Lincoln showed up Stephen Douglas, and Mitt Romney will still lose the post debate swing state polls. Why? Because the voter samples that the media pollsters will call are already stacked to favor Democrats over Republicans.
The election remains close: I think I’ll be saying this until election day.
How well will this pre-debate, post-debate assessment hold up? Check in after the debate, and we’ll grade my prediction.