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Two Post Debate Polls -- Only One Matters:

CBS poll of undecided voters:

Biden: 50%

Ryan: 31%

Undecided (of the undecided): 19%

CNN poll of debate watchers:

Ryan: 48%

Biden: 44%

Undecided: 8%

We are 26 days before the election, it comes down to one audience: the undecided. Biden came out on top. Now, the pressure is on Obama to perform better than this years debates -- and better than he ever performed in 2008. 


Remember, nothing before this moment mattered.  Remember, all that matters is the 12% of undecided voters. Sure, pundits, twitter and blogs can all influence these voters -- but it comes down to how Biden and Romney spoke to them.

Debates, as we all know now, are not so much about stats and policy as about aesthetics and storytelling.

My score? Biden gave an A performance and Ryan gave a B+ performance.

Biden had two jobs to win this debate:

1) explain Obama's policy successes to voters

2) push back on Congressman Ryan's talking points.

He accomplished both -- but failed to get an A+ because of his occasional snarky tone.

Biden was able to tell the story of where we were as a country when he took office, how Obama's policies have saved the country and how we are just getting out of the hole and need to keep climbing. He charmingly called Paul Ryan out on his "malarchy," possibly for the first time with the entire nation watching.  His campaign needed that.  While he admittedly came on strong, aggressive and snarky at times, he balanced this out with his Irish storytelling that steered swing voters back in.

Paul Ryan tried, but failed, to story tell back.  Ryan, who prides himself in didactically dictating data and policy, attempted to infuse stories -- but failed to do so from the heart.  And he definitely could not out-story tell Vice President Biden.  I gave him a B+.

Lastly, Martha Raddatz got a B+.  She kept control of the debate and was not afraid to push back.  I do, however, question her topic choices.  I understand that there are ratings needs, but as a millennial, I would've been more interested in hearing about issues like education and investment in jobs for the new workforce and outsourcing instead of abortion.

Then again, we aren't swing voters and we definitely aren't watching ABC.

What were your thoughts?


My 2 sentence summary of this debate:

Biden agressively and empathetically steered the debate back on the factual course while Congressman Ryan attempted and failed to charm the proof out of his factless talking points. Biden may have been severe at times, but Ryan came off weak.

As Joe Biden talks about the costs of campaigns -- this pops up in my e-mail box (Donation email). Poor timing.

Final question:  "Are either of you embarrassed by the tone of your campaigns? By the money? By the ads?"


How powerful is the Catholic church in America? More importantly -- on swing voters?

15 minutes on jobs; 10 on taxes; 20 on national security. The rest on...abortion?
What are we in, 1984?

Clearly, Vice President Biden read my last blog:


I'm sitting here watching the debate in a room that includes a middle aged female swing voter (56 year old white woman from the midwest), and 86 year old woman who survived the depression and escaped a communist country (who also understands medicare) and a recent college graduate without a job.  Listening to their responses, I've gathered this:

"Wow I didn't know that it costs more for the average person without Obamacare." - 56 year old woman.

"War should always be the last answer."  "I've had no changes to my medicare, but I don't know which candidate will make sure it stays that way." "Joe Biden looks like Paul Newman." -86 year old woiman.

"Why aren't they talking about bringing jobs to the biggest generation -- millennials?" "Why aren't they talking about how to support the troops coming home?" "Paul Ryan is confusing me when he talks about taxes.  Ok, Joe Biden just translated." -Millennial out of work.


Have you ever watched a live cross examiniation during a trial? Have you ever seen a witness take control of the lawyer? This debate is a debate about the Obama administration's accomplishments.  Joe Biden (the witness) has taken control of the conversation -- steered it away from the questions from the moderator and Mr. Ryan.

Zing! "Facts matter.  This President doesn't bluff.  War should be the last option..." -Biden

Biden wins it in the first 15 minutes.  He is "calling out the malarchy-in-chief"

How can Ryan rebound? Use extreme examples that tell the story of how America has not moved forward.  He must empathize.

Sadly, this is true:

FP:VP Biden needs to spin the conversation from what "wasn't done to prevent the attacks" to what "has consistently been done right under the Obama administration."


Vice President Biden entered the Senate when he turned 30 years old.  He came into office before the 24 hour news cycle and has a deep understanding of retail politics, policy and strategy. 
If the Obama campaign wasn't coming in with the greater burden, VP Biden would have a leg up in this debate (and he may shift it back to Obama). 

What to expect:

VP Biden will tap into Ryan's weaknesses: 1) his inability to reference facts 2) his dangerous congressional record 3) his "youth and inexperience"


One minute in and Vice President Biden has already shown us 1) where we were 2) what the Obama administration has done to protect us 3) How Romney has not made the country's safety a priority.


Below is my 30,000 foot perspective analysis on the final round of the Presidential race.  Who has the burden to overcome; how each candidate can win.  I will be live blogging how Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan fit into this strategy.  Stay tuned...

Ignore everything about the 2012 election prior to today.  Before this point, ignore every poll, every positive and negative ad, every gaffe -- because none of it matters.  Now, 26 days before the election, is when our presidential candidates’ actions matter.  This is when those highly sought after swing voters will be influenced and decided.  This is when Romney and Obama need to be on their "A games." 

Up until today, the candidates have spent their time cultivating their bases, winning their party’s nomination, building momentum, and of course, fundraising.  $1.25 billion dollars (Candidate fundraising; outside group fundraising) has been spent building the Romney and Obama brands -- and another $1.25 billion is expected to be spent in the next three weeks to cross the finish line and win the remaining voters. Read that again: $1.25 billion dollars will be spent in three weeks to win 12% of voters.  (And another $3.25 billion on Congressional races.)

Here we are, 21 months into the election and Romney and Obama are exactly where they started -- tied in a dead heat to influence that 12% that will tip them over the edge.

Going into this final round, the round that matters, who has the advantages and disadvantages?  Who has the burden to overcome? And how do they overcome it?

And what actually influences those swing voters (versus what excites base voters, who have already decided)? 

While incumbent presidents already have the leg up in a race, President Obama the bigger burden to overcome.  Here’s why:

- Fundraising: Romney may not be raising as much money as President Obama on his campaign, but he comes in with a conservative Superpac buffer, which is outraising progressive Superpacs 5:1 Get ready because SuperPacs are about to unleash their negative ad-buying fury -- and conservative SuperPacs will be doing the majority of the ad buying. 

-The Economy: The country still feels the hangover from the recession, and Romney is (and should continue) to tap into the country’s vulnerabilities.  Romney can use his messaging money to put Obama on the defensive and paint President Obama as a failure who hasn't made the country "feel better."

-Negative Messaging: The 12% of swing voters that need to be persuaded, are swayed more by negative attack ads than positive ads  Since conservatives have more money to buy these ads, and their focus is on attacking the state of the economy and blaming it on President Obama, they have the leg up.

-Obama's Record: Although the Obama administration has gotten us out of the recession, pushed unemployment below 8%, passed health care and killed Osama Bin Laden, he has struggled with messaging his policy successes to voters -- especially the 12% of undecideds who disproportionately feel “disappointed” in the President’s performance, thus hurting his incumbency advantage.  To win, he has a bigger burden to overcome winning back swing voters who once trusted him.  And he must do so with 1/5 of the SuperPac money that will influence those voters. 

-The Policy Narrative: The President has no choice but to change the narrative. When Romney attacks him, the President should NEVER, EVER act defensive or ignore the attack.  He must practice the art of spin.  He must take Romney’s words and flip them over in his favor.  Most importantly, President Obama needs to clearly show America the difference between him and Mitt Romney.  He must show America that he felt and understood the pains caused by Bush’s failure at managing the economy.  He spent every moment of his presidency fighting to get us to this point: just past the recession with unemployment back down to 7.8%. And there is still work to do.  But, do you want a President who understands your pain and policy, or do you want a president who has been wealthy since birth? Obama is great at saying these things stumping on the trail - but again, none of that matters.  He and his team need to hammer this message home during the debates.

-The Narrative Strategy: Obama must clearly articulate, through stories, how bad it was when he entered office; what his administration has done to get us out of that hole; and what we are in the process of achieving to make our country prosperous again.

-Obama's Course: Obama must steer the debate. With the financial power (and messaging purchase power) in Romney’s hands, he must use the power of his Presidency to steer the course of the debate.

-Attack Response: Attacks sway swing voters. President Obama must rise above attacks; focus on the future, thus changing the narrative.

The big question, we as political enthusiast must ask ourselves is: will we allow money to dictate this election or will we let leadership? Mitt Romney, sadly, does not need to be on his "A game" given the advantages he has in this game; President Obama, once labeled as Superman, needs to channel his inner 2008 candidate, but on steroids.

The only way for President Obama to counter the power of negative attack ads in the final hours, is to remind the country why he was the candidate of hope and change.  Then again, every once in a while, those negative ads backfire...we can only “hope” for that!