It is difficult to engage intelligently in the race for president without at least considering the polling statistics. The Republicans have had much to cheer for as of late; Mitt Romney is currently carrying the general electorate by a narrow 1.3% according to Real Clear Politics. The 47.3% to 46% breakdown is likely the most accurate knowledge of the candidates' current standing; Real Clear Politics draws from Gallup, Rasmussen and an assortment of other polling agencies in an effort to eliminate biases.
However, more important to hypothesizing the outcome of Election 2012 than the popular vote is gauging the activity in crucial swing states. Due to the Electoral College, national consensus opinions do not carry nearly the weight they are made out to be. For example, no Republican has every been elected president without winning Ohio. This election is going to come down swing states like North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida, who are attached to 15, 18, and 29 Electoral Votes respectively. Keep in mind, for either candidate to win he must obtain 270 electoral votes. For reference, in 2008 President Obama won 365 Electoral Votes.
The punditocracy was quick to note that for the first time since May, Mitt Romney is winning the popular vote. Coming off a performance that even had liberals praising Romney, incumbent President Barack Obama faces a critical point in his campaign. As he brilliantly showed in 2008, Barack Obama the candidate is a force to be reckoned with; even Romney aides were heard calling Obama one of the most talented political communicators of our time. But in the first debate, Romney easily outdueled him. What gives?
President Obama's overall demeanor played right into the narrative Republicans have pitched: Obama is a weak leader that does not have the aptitude required of a president. President Obama appeared as if he was holding back; Romney came off as a polished leader familiar with high pressure settings. In order for Obama to re-gain momentum, he needs a performance that screams "How could I NOT vote for this guy?" In other words, he must capture the image of Candidate Obama, as opposed to President Obama.
This page will be updated live during the debate. Please bookmark this page and hit 'refresh' for real-time quotes, pictures, and analysis coming to you from Wake Forest University.
10/14/2012 8:02 pm: Among cries that young people are dishearteningly detached from current politics, it is interesting to note that throughout the first Presidential Debate and the Vice Presidential Debate not a single candidate mentioned young people once. Despite covering issues such as the economy, Medicare, and foreign policy, neither side has attempted to sway the youth vote.
President Obama urges that he fought for young people by doubling Pell Grants to make college affordable. Republican candidate Mitt Romney advised young people to "shop around" to find an affordable college education. Niether side seems to be aware that college tuition can easily top $40,000 before room and board are taken into account. No policy has been put forth to deal with this issue that oppresses individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Furthermore, the debt accumulated by young people is putting recent graduates into a hole that could prove irrecoverable. The notion that the Millenial generation should simply "work harder" to achieve success is tired and out of touch with reality. Youth unemployment (18-29) rate reached 16.6% nationally, a whopping 8.8% higher than the national average.
10/15 8:02pm: Latest Real Clear Politics polls show Romney up 0.6% in Colorado, up 2.5% in Florida, and leading by 4.7% in North Carolina. Meanwhile, Obama leads by 2.2% in Ohio, 0.8% in Virginia, 0.7% in New Hampshire, 2.3% in Wisconsin, and 4.8% in Pennsylvania. If Election 2012 was decided based on today's polls, President Obama would win 294 Electoral Votes to Mitt Romney's 244.
10/16 5:31 pm:
Tonight's Debate Moderator will be Candy Crowley from CNN. Crowley will be the first woman moderator in 20 years, which could play both candidates' hands on women's issues like abortion. The Second Presidential Debate will feature a town-hall setting, allowing constituents to voice their concerns first-handedly. The second debate will not take place in a swing-state as it was in the first Presidential Debate; the debate is set to be held at Hofstra University in New York. For the third time, a public clash of titans will appear on a college campus. Keep in mind, students and Millenials are still waiting to be addressed on such a stage.
Don't expect this:
9:08 pm: Romney on student issues: we need to continue Pell grants and student loan problem, but more importantly, we need jobs. "I know what it takes to bring it back"-- Gov. Romney
"When do you graduate? 2014? Well I presume there wil be President by then"-- Gov.Romney
"Let's take the money we've spend on military over the past ten years and put it toward investing for the future"--President Obama
Romney hitting Obama on unemployment--"counting people that dropped out of the workforce, unempolyment would be 10.6%"
"Mitt Romney has a one-point plan: protect the upper class"--President Obama
9:14 pm: "Let's look at the policies, as opposed to rhetoric"--Romney
Wake Forest Senior Sandsers McNair: "Mention climate change!!"
9:28 pm: Romney continuing on tried and true GOP strategy of cut taxes, cut taxes. Romney stated he wants to lower rates across the board 20%; Obama firing back Romney wants to cut estate tax, capital gains. The President adds Romney hasn't specified any particular budget cuts, "the math doesn't add up." Obama, in a suave move, notes to business man Romney: if someone came to you and offered you this deal (ie. taxcode) that doesn't have specifics, you would say its a "sketchy deal."
By the time we get to the energy sources of the future under either candidate's plan, there will not actually be a future.
— Ned Resnikoff (@resnikoff) October 17, 2012
Mitt Romney: Presidet Obama ended use of federal lands because "some 25 birds died"
Romney just totally lost the bird vote
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 17, 2012
9:37 pm: Sophomore Colby Moore "Mitt Romney's main message is: trust me, I've run businesses."
9:46 pm: Question: How are you and your policies different from George W. Bush?
Romney: utilize domestic energy, Champion small business, balance budget---> how is this response valid?
10:09 pm: So far, Obama has held a modest edge over Governor Mitt Romney. Both candidates have softened their rhetoric as to appeal to the face-to-face setting with voters. Romney looks a bit more flustered and upset by what the President is saying. Obama has been firm tonight after criticisms that he let Romney get away with too many lies in the first debate.
Romney: "President have you looked at your pension?" Obama's comeback: "Well, it's not as big as yours."
10:15 pm: President Obama on calling out Mitt Romney tonight:
10:18 pm: Question: what is your administration going to do about assualt weapons such as Ak-47s?
Obama: we need to enforce our current laws; weapons that belong in warfare don't belong on the streets; looking at other sources of violence (refers to Chicago's homicide problem"; look at re-introducing Assault Weapons Bans.
Romney: "I don't want to make any guns illegal."
10:26 pm: Obama calls out Romney on flip-flopping on gun stance. Romney if he does not get elected President:
10:32: Romney Flub: In response to Crowley's question about China producing iPads, iPhone's etc, Romney stated "our nation has the ability to compete with anyone." This is flat out incorrect. It is no secret China's extremely cheap labor supply makes China an easy choice for a place to put a factory. Romney is wrong in thinking we have a comparative advantage in producing consumer goods. America's economy thrives on ideas and innovation, not manufacturing.
10:40: Democrats leaving the watch party "Well that feels better." It should be noted that neither side single-handedly dominated the debate. The town-hall style debate seemed to force the candidates to go into Q&A mode however both played typical politicking when faced crucial questions. For example, President Obama failed to directly answer an audience member's question on Libya. Romney, like in the first debate, was effective with certain points. However, he began sounding redundant as the debate progressed.
10/17 8:58 am: Who Won the Debate
This town-hall stlye debate left neither side feeling as though they had dominated. However, juxtaposed with the first debate it is clear Obama picked up Joe Biden's slack on keeping the Republicans honest. Obama and Romney sparred early over energy, which failed to represent debate; the two sides could not agree on any facts. The locking of horns was welcomed by Obama supporters after a timid first performance. Mitt Romney still came across as polished, however he was not able to substantiate his claims on his $5 trillion tax plan. Governor Romney pleased his Republican base by relentlessly repeating "I am going to cut your taxes," however he failed to lay out specific policy details about issues like education, instead shifting the focus of the question that schools were ranked highest in the nation when he was Governor of Massachusetts. This can be misleading, however, as public schools usually get their funding from local property taxes. Therefore, the schools in Massachusetts could better be attributed to the fact that there is a lot of wealth in Massachusetts. Obama revived the concept of Candidate Obama by keeping a calm presence yet sticking firm to his points when calling out Romney. A recurring theme throughout the debate, both candidates mentioned to each other "that is plain wrong;" this itself shows America that despite rhetoric both sides remain unable to agree on the most basic things: facts. In other words, the Democrats and Republicans have yet to even reach a playing field where policies can be properly debated.