The Third Presidential Debate

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 23, 2012

Once again, my live-tweets and retweets were collated. I agree with those who believe that President Obama may have won on points, but that Mitt Romney did nothing to hurt himself, and that he passed the commander-in-chief test (David Gergen’s words). The first presidential debate likely remains the most consequential one; I don’t think that this third debate will move the polls nearly as much as the first one did. Indeed, the polls continue to show movement towards Romney and while that movement may have slowed somewhat in the aftermath of the last two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, the movement may well still be enough–as John King pointed out on CNN after the debate ended–to make Mitt Romney the 45th president of the United States.

It seemed to me that both campaigns believe that Romney is the frontrunner. That’s why the president was constantly trying to attack Romney and to draw him in a verbal scuffle, and why Romney sought to avoid getting into a back-and-forth, focusing instead on winning moderates and independents to his campaign. I would have preferred that Romney hit back against the president a few times, but the tone and tenor of the debate make clear the consensus view that Romney is in the driver’s seat. No one should take victory for granted, of course. But before the first debate, the clock was working in favor of the president. All he had to do was to avoid making any mistakes, and re-election would have been his.

Now, Barack Obama finds the clock and the trends working against him. He may have won the third debate, but I don’t think he did much to change those trend lines.

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