In the only scientific poll of debate watchers, CNN/ORC said the Obama won the debate. 48% of the registered voters voted for Obama while 40% thought Romney won. CNN is the only cable network with a scientific poll. A flash CBS poll also had Obama winning 53% to Romney’s 23%. CNBC’s online poll had Obama winning 63% to Romney’s 33% and Public Policy Polling survey of debate watchers had Obama winning 51% to Romney’s 47%.
This debate was somewhat disappointing. They spent almost 30 minutes of the 90 minute debate on the economy, but not in its relationship to foreign policy. And somehow that got into a discussion on education. Romney successfully allayed fears that he would be a saber rattling, jingoistic president. Romney's strategy was clearly designed to distance him from the inflammatory comments he has made on the campaign stump and pander to the undecided independent voters who do not identify with his neo-con advisers. Romney spent most of the time agreeing with the Obama foreign policy decisions and clearly his version of a win was "do no harm." Obama on the other hand was fiery and on the attack. He relentlessly tied Romney to past positions and painted him as someone who has no foreign policy of his own. Obama used rapier wit to dismantle all of Romney's policy statements. Obama seemed more like a political satirist writing lines for the Al Smith dinner than a president articulating his policies. On Romney's plans to increase the size of the U.S. Navy, Obama said, "You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1917. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines." On China trade policy, Obama said, “You can't airbrush history."
Moderator Schieffer did a good job and interestingly both Obama and Romney were respectful towards the moderator. He was able to nudge Romney along without incurring the now infamous wrath of the Republican candidate and unlike Crowley, when the candidates got into a back and forth over accuracy, he allowed the candidates to work it out between themselves without interjecting himself into the conversation. Schieffer closed with what might be the most memorable comment of the evening. He said, "We all love teachers. I leave you with the words of my mom, go out and vote it will make you feel big and strong."
Be sure to check out my live blog of Monday's debate.