Instant View: A convincing win for Mitt Romney

Romney shines through. One prominent Obama supporter says the president "may even have lost the election tonight"

Romney on a roll
Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher
On 4 October 2012 03:54

Forget what FOX News and Obama's enemies are saying about last night's presidential debate with Mitt Romney. Here's what his supporters are saying: "How is Obama's closing statement so f**king sad, confused and lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight." That was Andrew Sullivan, live blogging at The Dish for the Daily Beast.

Sullivan is quite open in telling his readers, "you know how much I love the guy," but his overall impression of what happened to Obama during the debate is devastating:

"In live-blogging a debate, I am not judging the intellectual cogency alone. I am judging it as a debate, which is a complex thing, with many factors in play. But I know debating, am good at it, and I can see a wipe-out when it's, well, in front of one's nose."

These sorts of sentiments seem to be flooding in from across the liberal commentariat.

Chris Matthews from the massively, and openly, pro-Obama MSNBC said of the president's performance:

"I don't know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. Romney, on the other hand, came in with a campaign. He had a plan, he was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive, he was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively, he was going to relish the evening, enjoying it."

Dan Balz and Amy Gardner in the Washington Post argued that, "The debate is likely to give Romney what he needed most, which is a fresh look from voters — at least those who are undecided or open to changing their minds — and will change the conversation about the campaign, which for the past two weeks has been tilted in the president’s favor."

As far as the flash polling is concerned, the numbers for Obama are daunting. A CNN/ORC poll of registered voters who watched the debate said 67 percent thought Romney had won with only 25 percent giving victory to Obama. Crucially, among undecided voters, a CBS poll said 46 percent thought Romney had won, 22 percent thought Obama had won and 32 percent thought they were even.

The two were essentially tied on likability in the CNN poll while on the question of who came across as the stronger leader, Romney was way out in front with 58 percent to Obama's 37 percent.

The likability factor may be more important than its vagueness suggests. Democrat smear tactics have focused heavily on trying to denigrate Romney as mean, stiff and uncaring. The problem is that Romney actually came across as sincere, engaging and, well, likable. Having set people's expectations so low on this score, the risk now is that the Democrats' tactics blow up in their own faces as Romney exceeds those expectations with ease.

Overall, it was clearly a very good outing for the Romney camp and a bad one for Obama. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen what sort of follow-through Romney will actually get from last night's proceedings. As the BBC's North America Editor Mark Mardell put it:

"If Mr Romney clearly won this debate, in terms of style at least, he can't celebrate too hard just yet. If the polls don't move after a win, then he really is in trouble."

Too true. We'll have to wait and see.

Robin Shepherd is the owner/publisher of @TheCommentator. Follow him on Twitter @RobinShepherd1

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