Liberals are crowing this morning about Obama's big victory in the debate last night.
If President Obama had done this well in the first debate, most would have already written off Mitt Romney. Obama won the debate decisively.
The president had a simple formula: Defend and explain his record while insisting that Romney wasn't being truthful. He kept Romney on the defensive and came prepared with counter-punches to nearly every topic. It was devastatingly effective.
The memorandum of understanding setting the rules for the debate -- and the town hall format itself -- went out the window pretty quickly. The debate turned confrontational within the first 20 minutes which probably pleased partisans. Both sides saw fire in their candidate. But it's more likely that undecided voters didn't like the confrontation at all.
In particular, Romney doesn't do testy well. He made a big mistake trying to roll over the moderator. He got away with it in the first debate but he looked mean tonight. His obsession with the rules also came off as petty.
Were Obama's tactics "devastatingly effective?" Let's go to the videotape - or, more prosaically - to the polls taken following the debate.
- On the economy, Romney beat Obama by 18% in the CNN poll and 21% in the CBS poll.
- The CNN poll had Romney up on handling taxes (7%) and the budget/debt (23%)
- CNN poll on if candidates had a clear plan - Romney was -1 (49-50) and Obama was -23 (38-61)
- Romney even led on health care (49-46), being a better leader (49-46), and giving direct answers (45-43)
- Obama led on being likeable (47-41) and who cared more about the questioners (44-40)
- PPP CO poll on whether view of candidates were more positive after debate: 40-36 (+4) Obama, 44-35 (+9) for Romney.
- PPP CO poll on who better understands people like you: 50/50 tie.
That sure sounds devastatingly effective alright - for Mitt Romney. Just where is this "decisive" Obama victory?
Keep digging, Taegan. I'm sure there's a pony somewhere in that manure pile.
Ace has more bad news for the president from those polls:
But this is amazing: Did Obama offer a clear vision for solving the country's problems?
61% No. Wow.
How about that asked about Romney?
A Specatator Culture: Americans have gotten pretty sophisticated about judging performance, especially after 10 years of American Idol.
We shouldn't assume that when people answer the question "Who won the debate?" they confuse that question with "Who did you find more persuasive?"
They might actually be offering a sophisticated analysis: "I think this guy won on debate performance points."
But then ask them "Who actually persuaded you?," and they might answer a completely different way.
It certainly appears that's what happened here tonight.
Taken together, do Obama's numbers add up to a winning candidate on November 6? At the very least, it suggests Romney doesn't lose any ground and may, in fact, maintain some momentum.
The spin will continue, and the media will push the narrative of a "decisive" Obama victory. Whether it will alter the reality that people saw is unknown.