Wrap up: The third debate; Update: Insta-polls coming in

The nearly universal consensus on Twitter is that Romney won by holding his own, which is all a challenger needs to do in a foreign-policy debate. After watching him talk about international affairs for 90 minutes, does he seem like a guy you’d trust with the button? If yes, then mission accomplished.


Doesn’t matter who won the battle, says Ron Fournier. What matters is who won the war:

Mitt Romney wins. That’s not to say he won Monday night’s debate or the presidential campaign, but it’s safe to say he won an important chapter: The debate season…

There are ample reasons for both Obama and Romney to feel optimistic about their chances Nov. 6. But through his own steady performances and a spectacular first-debate failure by the incumbent, Romney has cleared an important hurdle: A near-decisive number of Americans believe that he is a viable alternative to Obama, an incumbent saddled with a weak economy and a pessimistic national mood.

Another point made more than once in the national tweet scrum tonight was that it sometimes felt like Romney was the incumbent and Obama the angry, occasionally snide challenger. That’s a byproduct, I’m sure, of Team Mitt rehearsing very carefully to capture the sort of tone that Murphy mentioned above. Romney wanted to show the audience not just that he understands Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran, but that he’s unflappable even in a tense situation. Obama wasn’t facing that test so he could afford to be more aggressive, if only to impress his base. Because he was playing offense, I’ll bet that he wins the insta-polls. But that won’t matter; the bottom line is that Romney’s still on track. Stand by for updates.

Update: To see what I mean by snide, here’s O telling Romney that the 1980s called and asked for their foreign policy back. Which is an old enough gag that I think it actually does date to the 1980s.

Update: No surprise:

Waiting for CNN’s poll and, maybe, some focus group video.

Update: A curious lack of curiosity:

Soledad O’Brien was just interviewing the CNN undecided voter focus group. She asked them (quoting from memory): “How many of you changed your mind based upon tonight’s debate.” A whole bunch of hands went up. But — and this is not a joke — O’Brien refused to ask them who they’d would vote for because voting is a “private matter.”

I’m not making this up.

Update: Hearing on Twitter that CNN’s insta-poll has Obama winning 48/40. O won the insta-poll after the second debate by a nearly identical margin, and yet the Mitt-mentum continued. Meanwhile, for what it’s worth, Mark Halperin calls it a flat tie.

Update: A more significant poll result, maybe:

Update: Say, what happened to the Benghazi tonight?

Update: Another key data point:

Update: George Will celebrates the triumph of anti-interventionists:

Update: Not much of a “win” for O, was it?

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David Strom 3:31 PM on March 27, 2023