The Duel in Denver. The Clash in Colorado. Whatever you want to call it, the last time there was a duel in politics that was of this magnitude Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton.
In the last few weeks there has been a great deal of prognostication regarding who is going to "win" the first presidential debate of this year.
“Win,” of course, is in quotes because it’s all qualitative and subjective.
But recent Pew research has released data which shows that voters expect that Obama will do a better job than Republican rival Mitt Romney at the first debate battle in Denver. According to their findings more voters say Obama will do better than Romney in Wednesday’s debate, by a 51% to 29% margin.
Nearly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) expect Obama to do the better job in the debate (shocking). By contrast, Republicans are less confident in their candidate: 64% of GOPers say Romney will do the better job, 16% say Obama. The balance of opinion among independent voters mirrors that of all voters: 44% say they expect Obama will do the better job, 28% say Romney.
The critical data points are with Republican and independent voters. If Republicans aren’t enthusiastic with their candidate, it may be a sign that the conservative base is unraveling. What does this mean? Who knows. But it could lead to anything from less Republican voters showing up at the polls (which, in turn, means a disproportionate amount of Dems voting), to conservatives voting for “the other guy,” which in this case could be libertarian and free-market candidate Gary Johnson.
The numbers also show that independents — those less-than-10%-of-voters who haven’t yet made up their minds (aka the voters both candidates hope to persuade in their favor beginning tonight)— are already starting to swing towards Obama, which is a worrying sign for Romney, who is seeking to win over undecided and independent voters, especially has he trails in other voting blocs (national, favorability, minority, swing states, young people, women, etc. etc.).
Romney, then, is going into the debate with less momentum than the president. And as we learned during the 20 GOP debates which took place over the last year, Romney does not debate well when behind in the polls.
In any case, game on.
Join in on Wednesday for a complete analysis and news of the debate.
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Below is the schedule for upcoming debates:
October 3, 2012
Topic: Domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: University of Denver in Denver, Colorado (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
Moderator: Jim Lehrer (Host of NewsHour on PBS)
The debate will focus on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by the moderator and announced several weeks before the debate.
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.
UPDATE 5:00-- The first three 15-minute segments will deal with the economy, the fourth segment is on health care, the fifth is on "the role of government," and the final is on "governing." Each candidate will make a closing statement to round out the evening. The moderator will be PBS veteran Jim Lehrer, who will open each 15-minute segment with a question, and Obama and Romney will have two minutes each to answer. After that, Lehrer will moderate the conversation between the two and intervene if one candidate goes on too long.
UPDATE 6:45-- Will President Obama channel "West Wing" President Jeb Bartlett tonight???