More Debate Post-Mortems

More Debate Post-Mortems

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

How important the Romney performance was last night will be noticeable in a few days as the first polls come in. While the debates will continue over the next several weeks, depending on what happens there may not be a noticeable trend until the final weeks.
Assuming Romney stopped the national slide, it remains to be seen whether he can begin to gain a lead in any of the key battleground states. It will also be very important to see if any Romney bounce will show up as well in other races further down on the ticket. Meanwhile, one continues to be aware of the extent to which the media’s spinning ability is able to influence voters’ preferences and polls. For many voters it is the reporting as well as opinions reflected in their papers and on television which may well determine the race, and not the actual debate.

The next presidential debate will be about foreign policy in two weeks, but next week Biden and Ryan square off. Given the events of last night it will be interesting to see how aggressive Biden will be and how effective Ryan will be on a big stage which he does not own. The Vice-President may not be a policy wonk but he is a very seasoned politician who completely understands that he needs to poke holes in the Romney-Ryan cover; something that Joe Biden has done to Republicans his entire political life.

There were many things that were not said last night by the President, but his failure to mention the Tea Party is almost unforgiveable. Obama could so easily have segued from economic issues to the Tea Party to their entire social agenda to women’s issues but he failed to do so. (At every stop he would have been able to make a sale to another set of voters.) When they meet on foreign policy, Obama must use the Tea Party to scare the American people and force Romney to associate with their foreign policy directions and with Ron Paul or to repudiate it and contradict his entire campaign.

In addition to being in excellent form and total command last night, Romney got a free ride from Obama. He knows it will be much tougher next time; if not then Michelle may need the name of the moving companies going to Chicago after all.

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