Obama Won The Battle But Lost The War
Last night was the final Presidential debate of 2012 and both campaigns are now in full-on sprint to the finish mode. While much had been espoused about the outcome of last night and the toplines of several flash-polls the reality is nothing appreciably changed for either candidate.
Obama was overly aggressive, as was expected, and garnered the rather inconsequential title of winner with some impressive numbers on the surface, 53% in CBS News poll and 48% from the CNN poll. He got a few zingers in on Romney but landed no body blows, though a few of his sound bites will most likely end up in attack ads that may come back to haunt him.
Romney was more reserved than in either of the first two debates but passed the Commander-In-Chief test with the CNN poll showing 60% believed him to be up to the task with Obama getting 63%. No harm, no foul and voters find either man capable of doing the job. If the Romney mission was simply to not stifle their own momentum then they were probably successful.
Further evidence of the non-factor nature of the debate is both candidates scored well in the likability area with Obama at 48% and Romney at 47%. On the question of the debate making voters more likely to vote for one candidate or the other, Obama got 24% while Romney got 25%.
It will take several days for an adequate number of post-debate polls to come in but looking at the flash-polls and the momentum Romney launched after the first debate it is clear that President Obama won last night’s battle but lost the three-part war. Romney’s surge since the Denver debate has turned the race into a virtual deadlock nationally and in the swing states that will determine the winner.
Foreign policy debates tend to fizzle in the news rather quickly and given domestic issues such as the deficit, economy, energy and jobs are top issues with the remaining persuadables, last night’s debate probably has a 24 hour life in the news cycle. Voters are more concerned with domestic issues and the media will hear very little about foreign policy for the next two weeks as both campaigns are already pivoting back to their domestic agendas.
The dash for the finish two weeks from today will be fought over domestic issues where Governor Romney has enjoyed considerable gains across the board, and last night did not seem to create any hurdles to slow that momentum. Friday may foretell much about the run-in to Election Day since many polls reflective of the last debate will be out and the Commerce Department will announce GDP growth numbers.
If Obama’s polling numbers don’t show at least a slowing of Romney’s momentum and the GDP numbers fail to meet economists consensus it could be a clear indicator that not only did Obama lose the debate battle, he may well have lost the election.