The second presidential debate has come to a close and the question on the minds of millions of Americans is now, “who won?” As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama faced off in a poll-defining battle, Americans at home hung on their every word looking for clues of who was in the lead.
From the get go it was a much different debate then the first presidential duel. Obama came in with his head held high, and much in the way that the Biden-Ryan debate was called a win by either side, this debate could be spun in the same way. Democrats will call the evening for Obama, while Republicans will likely chalk the night up to a Romney win. Keeping with that trend, I'm handing the evening to Obama, though a snap CBS news poll offers the same result. The poll indicates 37% of viewers give the win to Obama, 30% to Romney, and 33% say that the debate was tied.
The pressure going into tonight was squarely on President Obama’s shoulders. After a lackluster performance two weeks ago, the incumbent had the task of proving his passion; and prove it he did. Obama did not let Romney get away with un-truths, or even half-truths, and he laid out his policies and beliefs and even knew his opponents policies better than he did. As political analyst Donna Brazile tweeted after the debate: "Obama was simply on his game and knew Romney's positions better than his opponent."
Going into the evening, there were some key questions to be answered in order to determine who won. Here are three.
The Question: Did Obama Have His Footing?
The Answer: The hope was that Obama would find a middle-ground between his previous vibe of absolute apathy, and Joe Biden's off-the-wall ferocity. Being too harsh on the offense was not going to help the president. So did Obama find his footing? Yes. He was tough, he was on point, and he did not back down. But, unlike Romney, he also carried an air of respect. In the moments of intense clash (of which there were a few) Obama kept a cooler demeanor that seemed less vicious than Romney’s, and less abrasive than Biden’s.
Question: Did Romney Do It Again?
The Answer: There is no denying that Romney was on his A-game at the first debate, the question tonight was, would he be able to do it again? In this 90-minute debate Romney definitely put up a valiant fight, but with Obama on equal footing Romney’s control wasn’t as jarring or impressive. Romney also had moments of outright bullishness that might be perceived as too harsh for the average viewer and voter. He did have a few wins and attacking the president with statistics was an effective tool. In short, he didn’t quite do it again, but he didn’t fail either.
Question: Who Was More Relatable?
The Answer: As tonight's debate was a town hall format, the candidates were in a position to speak directly to the American people. On this front, they both engaged well. Neither of them delivered a performance that was off the charts but both effectively spoke to their bases, and both tried admirably to forge their way to the undecideds. What independent voters do not like, however, is the image that bipartisanship is impossible. While the candidates engaged well with the audience (except poor Lorraine whose name neither of them could figure out) their conflicts with one another could dissaude pessimistic voters.
What do you think? Who won tonight's debate? And did either candidate sway your opinion?