Playing With Horses and Bayonets
posted at 6:53 pm on October 23, 2012 by Matt Vespa
The debate last night was very boring. I’m enthused about voting Barack Obama out of office and I think Mitt Romney will win this election, but I definitely see why people probably switched off the debate to watch Monday Night Football or the San Francisco Giants game. In all, polls show that President Obama pulled ahead of Governor Romney, but this is the least important of all the debates. Luckily, following the first presidential debate, the resulting clashes follow along a decreasing scale of importance and viewership. This race is Romney’s to lose.
The one point of the debate where I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated was Libya. Romney played it safe when it came to this area ever since the president slammed him in the last debate concerning the politicization of the tragedy. He didn’t want to come off that way again. However, it was a frivolous point since the president dithered on releasing all the details about the attack and exuded gross incompetence in protecting our diplomats abroad. Romney still should have gone after Obama hard on this front. It’s one of the main reasons why Romney is on par with the president concerning the issues of terrorism and foreign affairs. It’s a salient event that casts doubt on Obama’s competence as commander-in-chief, and Romney failed to pull the trigger.
This hesitance or prevarication was demonstrated by the governor in the previous town hall debate during the question about ‘assault weapons.’ He could have doled out a haymaker by mentioning Fast and Furious, but muddied the response and failed to capitalize on this administration’s negligence that has led to American deaths abroad.
While they both agreed on Syria, Romney could have hit Obama on the fact that his withdrawal from Iraq, which was done to placate the anti-war left of his coalition, has allowed for President Assad to survive. Iranian supply planes fly over Iraqi airspace with impunity since they don’t have the capability to defend their own skies. Iraq doesn’t even have air-to-air fighters. Furthermore, on the notion the president made concerning Romney’s foreign policy prescriptions having been proved wrong, the governor could have hit back with The Surge in Iraq – and Obama’s opposition to it. The Surge proved to be a success, decreased the sectarian violence, and paved way for political cooperation.
Nevertheless, some of my conservative colleagues felt Romney did poorly – that he had lost the election. I tried not to be such an Eeyore this time. Granted, I had my doubts, especially during the month of September, but the first debate changed the game. Romney has altered the entire electoral map. Women have greatly attributed to the Romney surge and that’s where I wanted to see how they reacted.
To no one’s surprise, men reacted more positively during the last presidential debate, and most of that energy went towards Mitt Romney. Women were bored. Their level on engagement mostly flatlined indicating that not only was this a very boring debate, but Obama failed to sway them – which he desperately needs to do. I guess that Huffington Post article detailing how women are more engaged in foreign affairs, which was spun to cast some hope that this debate could be decisive for Obama was wrong (shocking). In the end, it’s the same as it ever was in the post-Cold War era. Foreign policy, as an issue, doesn’t win you votes at home anymore. Obama won the most unimportant debate of the election and the polling show it.
It ‘s still an election about the economy. As Dafydd Ab Hugh noted earlier today, “the Luntz focus group also found that whenever Romney managed to drag the economy into the conversation, he won those portions of the debate, big time.” Like Bush 41 before him, Obama is falsely assuming that killing bin Laden, ending the war in Iraq, and deescalating the war in Afghanistan will win him votes, and give him room to construct a bloc of support that’ll push him to victory. The problem is that the so-called ‘savings’ from Iraq and Afghanistan, if there are any, are cancelled out by his new one trillion dollar health care entitlement – and the taxes that will be excised as a consequence of that. Second, bin Laden being dead doesn’t help Americans find jobs.
Ace of Spades posted early Tuesday morning that:
…as far as changing votes, 24% said they were more inclined to vote for Obama, 25% for Romney. On the question of who was qualified to be Commander in Chief: 60% said Romney was. 63% said Obama was. PPP did a poll. It had Obama winning. But here’s the unkindest cut, from @DKElections (Daily Kos Elections). I’ve changed the tweet a little to make it more readable.
Weird: Among indies in @PPPPolls, 47% say they’re more likely to vote for Romney, 35% less; 32% say they’re more likely to vote for Obama, 48% less. But indies thought O won debate 55-40, voting for him 46-36
Not weird. Romney’s strategy was correct. He gained some ground. Even though the “independents” skewed strongly to Obama.
Obama’s whole campaign — and his debate strategy — has been to “win the newscycle” and lob a bunch of small-bore attacks and micro-appeals. He keeps doing that and doing that.
I’ve been saying this for a while: You can win every newscycle and still lose. Because people don’t vote on whatever dumb story you pushed into the newscycle. They’re voting the the future, and the country, and their children. A lot bigger stuff that binders full of Big Bird
John Fund posted on NRO that the:
mini-debate [that occurred] went to Mitt Romney as he relentlessly repeated his major themes — the president’s last four years haven’t worked, take-home pay is down, 23 million are unemployed or underemployed, and the national debt has grown from $10 trillion to $16 trillion. Since far more Americans ultimately vote on domestic concerns than foreign policy, Romney was smart to reserve his sharpest criticism for Obama’s fiscal and economic record. Those points hit home, and Obama seemed a bit surprised and on the defensive when trying to justify his domestic record.
If you wanted to construe this debate as a victory for Romney, as some conservative commentators did, then you could say that his pivots to the economy and the deficit, which aren’t extraneous to foreign policy since we’re in such a fiscal mess, were the factors that allowed Romney to eek out a win.
Guy Benson noted that Romney also needed to pass the commander-in-chief test, which is to show the American people your confidence in handling our national security, understanding the threats we face, and demonstrating that you can be trusted with nuclear weapons. I agree that Romney passed assessment, as did David Gergen, albeit he could have been more aggressive. On the other hand, Obama’s aggressiveness over shot the mark with some saying, like Politico’s John Harris, that it “diminished” his role as commander-in-chief. He’s already president. He didn’t need to crank it up to eleven, which some independent voters might find unpresidential.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter that Ed Schultz, liberals, and some conservatives thought that Romney’s debate performance was horrible. It doesn’t matter that both candidates agreed on some issues. It REALLY doesn’t matter that foreign policy guru Rev. Al Sharpton believes that Mitt Romney missed international affairs in school. Sorry, Reverend – but the world does understand Mitt Romney of foreign policy. While a ‘win is a win,’ its effect is rendered de minimis when nobody cares. Monday’s debate just wasn’t all that important.
Here’s today’s polling posted by Spades to prove it.
Gallup’s numbers were late today. When they finally posted, Obama gained a point to 46%; Romney’s lead shrunk from 6 to 5. No change in registered voters from yesterday (48-47 Romney).
Here’s an important finding, from @conartcritic. In a poll conducted Oct. 1st through 21st, Gallup found the party affiliation of the country very nearly evenly split:
Gallup survey of party affiliation pref for 1-21 Oct: Dem 34.3% GOP 34.1% Ind 31.6%
CAC’s conclusion: It’s not D+7, or 6, or 5, or 4, or 3, or 2, or even 1 anymore. It’s D+0. It’s all even.
Meanwhile, ARG posted a New Hampshire poll showing Romney up by two points.
Rasmussen: Romney 50, Obama 46 (see update at post’s end).
Rasmussen Swing States Only: Romney 50, Obama 45.
This is now the third time Romney has hit the 50% mark in the combined swing states in the past four days and is the biggest lead either candidate has held in nearly three weeks.
The needle hasn’t shifted.
So, when it comes to playing with horses and bayonets, Obama should just his keep focus on updating his resume since he’ll be looking for a new job after November 6.