Good question really. I know who most media outlets have declared the winner, but frankly, my guess is that was written before the debate. After all, given his last performance it’s hard to conceive how President Obama could have done worse. And given the low expectations, exceeding them was going to look like a “win” or at least be portrayed like one. The media loves “comeback kid” story lines.
Of course there was the usual grousing about the moderator, in this case, Candy Crowley. Some is to be expected. Some, in this case, was warranted. What is the job of a moderator? Well, what it isn’t is to provide “instant fact-checking”, especially when the fact check is incorrect. Moderators should be like referees or umpires – all but invisible while they keep the debate to the rules. However, when you pick people with large egos and biases to “moderate”, well, don’t be surprised when they make every attempt to insert themselves in things of which they have no business being a part.
However, to the main point. Who ‘won’?
Well a CBS instapoll says Obama won. Of course CBS was the only poll that said Joe Biden won so, yeah, not such a great endorsement. And the “win” was marginal at best, even with CBS.
In a CBS News poll, 37 percent of 525 uncommitted voters who watched the debate declared Obama the winner, compared to 30 percent who said the same of Romney; 33 percent said it was a tie.
CNN’s instant poll also gave the “win” to Obama (46/39 – registered voters).
Well, I guess, unless you look at some of the other numbers in the polls. And then, well, not so much:
Despite Obama’s slight edge overall, Romney was seen as better able to handle most issues.
The trend was most notable in the CNN poll: he had an 18-point edge among registered voters on the economy (58 percent to Obama’s 40 percent ); a 3-point edge on health care (49 percent to 46 percent); a 7-point edge on taxes (51 percent to 44 percent); and, largest of all, a 23-point edge on the deficit (59 percent to 36 percent).
Obama’s only lead in the CNN poll was a slim one on foreign policy: 2 percent more of the registered voters who watched the debate said he would handle the issue better (49 percent to 47 percent for Romney).
In the CBS poll, 65 percent of respondents also said Romney would handle the economy better after the debate (though that decreased from 71 percent before the debate). Only 34 percent said Obama would handle the economy better, but that was a jump of 7 percentage points.
Personal metrics were split a bit more evenly. Forty-nine percent of those in the CNN poll said Romney was the stronger leader, compared to 46 percent for Obama. The president still had a lead on likeability by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent. He was also perceived as caring more about the audience by a margin of 4 points, but also as spending more time on the attack by a 14-points one.
Among uncommitted voters surveyed in the CBS poll, 56 percent said the president would do a better job of helping the middle class, compared to only 43 percent who said the same of Romney.
So wait … are we voting on who did better in a debate, or who would do a better job as President?
Oh, that’s right, this is about the job, isn’t it?
The final word from the CNN respondents? Twenty-five percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney, and 25 percent said the same for Obama.
So who “won”?
Hmm … yes, if I was the Obama campaign brain-trust, I’d be worried too.
Oh, and in the third debate, Obama won’t have the benefit of low expectations working for him and, hopefully, we’ll see a debate where “moderation” means “referee”, not “instant but wrong fact checker“.