State of the Nation: Why Romney won the Debate, and how.

What the experts say

Molly Ball (The Atlantic) claimed a “major win for Romney … He was quick, aggressive and energetic, while Obama was rambling and defensive”, as did many other commentators. Obama failed to make any major punches, unlike Romney; in fact Obama didn’t even mention the 47% video scandal.

Dick Meyer (the executive producer for BBC America) calls Obama’s campaign ‘disciplined’, perhaps deliberately ‘low-rhetoric’ and ‘low-key’. Whilst this might work campaigning alone, when he met with Romney this ended up with him looking pretty much unengaged and even uninterested.

Glenn Thrush of Politico said “Obama has not been on a debate stage for 1,400 days and that really showed tonight. Mitt Romney has been in 29 debates in the last 18 months.”

The next debate is planned for 16th October in New York, where Obama will undoubtedly be better prepared. Obama has held onto the lead over Romney in recent polls; yesterday he had a 3-point lead compared to a 5-point lead two weeks ago in a similar poll. (Source)

Predicting

At the end of it all this is much less important than people think. Romney, as the old saying goes, might have won a battle but not the war. The long-term gains of this debate are what matters, and if the polls don’t move a lot more in Romney’s favour after such an obvious victory then Romney’s campaign will be dead in the water.

This was summed up best by Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC) “It’s impossible to judge a winner tonight. … The answer is in the polling, and we will start to get that next week. If there’s no movement in the polls this debate will mean nothing.” However, Romney’s chance of being president went up to 32% (from 25%) following the debate.

Conclusion

Obama failed to have an adaptive mindset, Romney was on top form dodging questions about his changing policies and just going with whatever sounded good. Obama should’ve been prepared for this and called it out Jeremy Paxman style; ‘You can’t keep changing your positions when you want to be President the American people deserve better’ or something tothat effect.  If Obama had been less defensive and more assertive then I’m sure more people who believed he lost would’ve changed their mind.

If you missed the debate here is a 121-second summary, catch the next one on the 16th October broadcast from New York.