The Debates Won't Save Romney

If you're a Romney partisan, and you've seen Barack Obama move ahead in the polls over the last couple of weeks, you may be saying to yourself, "Maybe the debates can save him." After all, the four debates (three presidential, one VP) are the the only planned events between now and Election Day. Though you never know what kind of unexpected events might occur, tens of millions of voters will be watching. And so many times in the past, the race has been transformed by a dramatic debate moment.

Except that's actually not true. As John Sides lays out quite well, after all the sound and fury, debates almost never change the trajectory of a race. Of course, something never happens up until the moment that it happens, but there's strong reason to believe that the debates will change nothing this year in particular. But before I get to that, here's Sides:

Why are presidential debates so often inconsequential? After all, many voters do pay attention. Debates routinely attract the largest audience of any televised campaign event. And voters do learn new information, according to several academic studies. But this new information is not likely to change many minds. The debates occur late in the campaign, long after the vast majority of voters have arrived at a decision. Moreover, the debates tend to attract viewers who have an abiding interest in politics and are mostly party loyalists. Instead of the debates affecting who they will vote for, their party loyalty affects who they believe won the debates. For example, in a CNN poll after one of the 2008 debates, 85 percent of Democrats thought that Obama had won, but only 16 percent of Republicans agreed.

All those memorable gaffes—George H.W. looking at his watch, Michael Dukakis not pounding his lectern at the suggestion of his wife's rape and murder, Al Gore sighing—turn out not to have had any discernible impact on the elections. What was almost certainly the most disastrous debate performance of all—Dan Quayle's in 1988—did not, you may recall, prevent him from becoming vice president.

And this year is even less likely to produce anything significant. As James Fallows explains, Mitt Romney is at his best when he can prepare carefully, and at his worst when he's taken by surprise. Over the course of the 500 or so primary debates the Republicans held, he was clearly the most informed and serious-seeming of the GOP candidates. Of course, besting Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann in verbal combat doesn't exactly make you the Ted Williams of debating, but there's little doubt Romney will show himself to reasonably knowledgeable, for what it's worth. His problem, though, is that it isn't worth much. He doesn't need to convince Americans he can recite a ten-point plan; he needs to convince them that within him beats the heart of an actual human, one who understands and cares about them. The chances of him doing that are pretty slim.


"The chances of him doing that are pretty slim."

So says a commentator with "an abiding interest in politics and [...] a party loyalist."

Not that I necessarily disagree, mind you, but just sayin'.

True. For that matter, the entire website here is hard partisan Leftist. Makes me wonder why anyone would read it ever, unless they are doing a study on the psychology of rebels or something.

First of all, Obama's lead in the poll average is based on several polls that routinely oversample Democrats and that are using the turnout model from 2008, which is unlikely to be repeated. If you look only and Gallup and Rasmussen, which are the two most reliable polls out there, the race is a statistical dead heat with anywhere from 5%-10% of the electorate still undecided. Obama's approval ratings still can't get above 50%, and that's very dangerous territory for any incumbent in a two-man race.

If the debates don't "save" Romney (and for the record. I don't share the author's pessimism in that regard), what WILL save him is an 8%+ unemployment rate (which everyone by now knows is really closer to 11%) and an exploding federal deficit which is threatening to ultimately crash our currency and bankrupt our country.

No doubt about it... and of the 23 million Americans that are not working these days or working below skill level, I'm guessing only a small handful of the most ideologically blinded would cast their vote for Obama (again). These are the folks that are really hurting and really need things to get better soon, something they know Obama has no intention of doing and has certainly made things vastly worse in the last 4 years. Considering that Obama won the election with a total of 54 million + votes in 2008, it will be interesting to see how that dynamic changes. Those folks all voted for hope in 2008 and none of them found any in Obama.

"I like to fire people". Willard the Unready

Nobody votes for Mr. Potter.

Not at all odd that you should place such confidence in Gallup's and Rasmussen's numbers. Like Fox News, their results are the ones you want to hear. Their samplings are tiny and usually involve the same participants over and over. So, don't be too disappointed come November 6.

What? Obama isn't up in the polls that are historically accurate. Romney's up. The liberal polls are unrealistically skewed towards Democrat voters -above even 2008 levels to say nothing of 2010 levels. So no. Obama's not doing fine like the media says. Don't trust the media. How many anti-Obama headlines have you seen compared to anti-Romney ones? It doesn't say so much about the two men as it does about the bias of those writing about them. You have to read both sides for balanced coverage because it doesn't exist in one place. How can you make an informed opinion on any topic if you rely on one point of view? You can't. Thanks for listening.

But why are the Fox polls heavily favoring obama?

There have been a lot of anti-Romney headlines because Romney and his robot-like moron supporters are idiots, who commit gaffe after gaffe, who lie continually and who make up sh-it on a minute-by-minute basis. Obama is a very good guy, who doesn't lie. No-Drama Obama. Few headlines there.

What are you gonna do on Nov 8? Probably explode. Please, go right ahead.

Obama has at most a five point lead. If Karl Rove can pull off some computer glitches in Ohio and Florida like he did in 2004, Romney has a good chance of winning.

Boy, David77 sure made a bum out of They write at the bottom of the page that content trolls are too lazy to log in. Sure showed them.

Just for the record, it is dishonest to state opinions, wishes or beliefs as fact. I don't know if David77 knew he was lying or not, but of course, the statement is a dishonest one either way.

I have always worried about vote fixing, not with voter registration (which the Rep party is using to disuade voters with the least resources of time, money, transportation). Early voting and military voting is subject to humans inputting paper ballots into computers ... an opportunity to lose or destroy ballots before entering them (especially since voting administration employees are stacked heavily with friends, family and acquaintences of the same mindset as the political party in power in that area). I have also wondered about the security protocols and who checks the validity of the computer program registering the votes being entered. Any program can be so complicated that the programmer with bad intentions can create lines of code that may eliminate every 100th or 20th vote for the candidates they don't want in office. Even more insidious would be a code that shifts every 40th vote from one candidate to the other. That would double the impact and create a 5% change in votes. So, how are these programs checked and how often or how recently are they checked to ensure all ballots are beng registered correctly?

Obama has a lead, but it's a slim one. Romney is not charismatic, and that seems to be disuading a lot of people from voting for him. Nevertheless, a majority of people do not have a high degree of confidence in Obama. The debates may be Romney's best chance, or even his only chance, to win by doing well in a one-on-one debate with Obama. Ultimately, that's how Reagan beat Carter.

You obviously know NOTHING about the Reagan-Carter race, where Reagan went ahead of Carter after the conventions, and never lost that lead.

The real question is how will America save itself from a biased media? The false coverage or lack of coverage of these little things like Iran's nukes, Fast & Furious, security leaks, the Libyan murders, the "Obama, we're all Osama" protests, the increased poverty rates, the continuing unemployment, the increased costs of Obamacare, the "I won't rest until we create jobs" followed by the WH parties with the stars, etc. An independent press is paramount to the checks and balances of a free society. We no longer have that, so we can begin to mourn the loss of our liberty or we can find ways to expose the truth.

"An independent press is paramount to the checks and balances of a free society. We no longer have that, so we can begin to mourn the loss of our liberty or we can find ways to expose the truth."
These types of comments are usually made by conservatives, which seems to be the case for you. So lets look at a couple of facts, shall we?

Highest US circulation newspaper: Wall Street Journal, which daily pounds Obama for all the things which you mention.
Highest viewership, cable TV: Fox News, which has twice the viewership of liberal MSNBC, and which also hits Obama non stop.

Yes it sure sounds like we have no "independent" press here!! We are all such victims of the liberal media....except of course all those who read the WSJ, watch Fox, listen to Limbaugh and endless others on the radio.

Yes, MSNBC is one of BHO's strongest critics ("hits Obama non stop"). Wait...what? Have you ever read the WSJ? To say that it's news pages are conservative let's me know that your politics could possibly be left of Chairman Mao. Editorial pages yes, but news pages not even close. Actually, it's the opposite--especially the headline writers. Anyone who does not believe the press is obviously and overwhelmingly pulling for BHO has to be teetering on the edge of insanity.

Truth has a liberal bias. When you cut taxes, tax revenues go down. This is truth, and only morons believe otherwise. The news media reported that there were no WMD in Iraq. This was not bias, this was truth.

CONservatives are invariably stupid, paranoid, and failures. I'd hate to be you, because finding the door in a dark room is an advanced skill for people like you.

"Yes, MSNBC is one of BHO's strongest critics ("hits Obama non stop")"

You don't read English too well do you? I was talking about Fox.

And if you think the WSJ, which hits Obama hard 313 days a year, is soft on him outside the opinion pages, you have no idea about the mind of Rupert Murdoch and his WSJ/Fox empire.

I am always amused at how GOP fans come to places like this and whine like little babies about how their views are not expressed in the media, when they have such friends as Murdoch, O'Reilly, Hannity, Wallace, Hume, Beck, Limbaugh, Savage and others.

You poor things, you have no voice.....

The only bias is rightwing fascist bias from Fox and the rightwing blond-fascist networks.

I agree the media has lost its edge. Media seldom does its own investigative reporting with the exception of the little media coverage given to "truth meters" on political claims of both parties. Unfortunately I disagree with you view of the bias. Media coverage is overloaded with reports based on biased press releases from right wing groups calling themselves grassroots, the right wing ownership of most media outlets (especially all the Fox News stations which are not news but "opinion" based shows), and all the media coverage that can be bought to use propaganda and lies by omission paid for by the hundreds of millions of dollars being provided by big corporate interests like A.L.E.C. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a campaign money launderer. Even with all the advantages the ultra right wing has in this election, The Romney/Ryan plan and their own words have tripped them up because they actually believe that what is best for corporate profit optimizing is best for the country. Unfortunately, their definition of "the country" excludes everyone who is not making at least $250,000 a year or more.

Wow, we found a loon who thinks Karl Rove cast a spell to create "computer glitches" that had the magic effect of stealing hundreds of thousands of votes for George Bush, somehow leaving him and Kerry EXACTLY where the Florida and Ohio polls said they were.

It seems a bit lazy to write a whole column simply to say one three "Debates Don't Matter". Even ignoring the fact that he's ignoring cases where they did, if that's what you really believe, then you need to seriously ask the question of why we have them, and whether they should be abolished. If you don't do that, if all you're doing is expressing the opinion (or the wish) that debates don't matter, that would have been better done in a Tweet than in an article.

Isn't it time to start considering Obama's legacy? When a president leaves office that's usually a media discussion. What will he most be remembered for? His speeches? ObamaCare? I would like to propose a legacy that sums up his four years: The Shovel Ready Presidency.

Geezus, you are gonna be depressed on Nov 7. I am gonna be elated. I hope you suffer because reading posts from morons is painful. I will be elated, because we are keeping POTUS, the Senate, and regaining the House. Enjoy the next 4 years, loser.

Why are you rude to others?

When somebody is rude and uses cliches, it more often than not means that they have no valid comeback.

The big Republican claim in 2009 used to be that the unemployment rate was almost 12%. Now their claim is that we've had years of unemployment over 8%. Has anyone noticed we went from the calamity of an almost crashed economy and economic depression (in Bush's own words near the end of his term) to an economy that has saved the stock market bringing it back up to and over its pre-crash levels, and unemployment has decreased by 4% which is a decrease of 33% from the total of 12% at the end of Bush's term. More importantly, these economic improvements were made despite the Republicans voting lock step against every plan President Obama or the Democrats tried to pass (with the exception of a very few Republicans who knew they were putting their jobs at risk with their base of voters). Third ... the Ryan budget is an example of the "dog eat dog" "survival of the fittest" mentality where the strongest and most affluent of citizens survive and the rest go without opportunity for jobs or super low wage levels because of "Free Market Theory" which is a ruse that favors Corporations putting workers in competition with each other for a the lowest wages possible because most of the good paying jobs did not become obsolete but were moved to third world countries to take advantage of child labor and dollar a week wage levels of disequal economies. The more jobs driven overseas due to Republican Free Trade policies, the less tax revenues there were to pay down deficits. Giving the already wealthy, the Bush erea tax breaks created the largest majority of the U.S. deficits. The new Ryan plan takes more from the shrinking middle class and poorest paid of workers to more tax breaks for multimillionaires and redistributes even more wealth from the bottom 95% to the upper 5% and does not shrink the deficit. Sometimes, maybe often, the shortest route to fixing a problem, like massive budget cutting, ends up creating a worse problem than the problem it is trying to fix. Ryan's plan is like a family deciding to completely cut their food and transportation budget in order to pay their bills. No food, no transportation to work to earn an income. Reinstituting Fair Trade instead of Free Trade (imposing import trade fees to equalize competition between the U.S. and countries with disequal economies), and new job stimulus in areas of renewable energy (solar, wind, tide, new energy grids), interstate and intrastate high speed rail made with U.S. labor and supplies from the U.S.; and rebuilding and maintaining our essential infrastructure ... all which U.S. business and workers both need to continue to survive and prosper. What's bad for the U.S. worker, is almost always bad for the U.S. economy. We need to protect U.S. small and medium size businesses from unfair competition from foreign markets with disequal economies. Once jobs then return, the tax revenues automatically increase without increasing the tax rates. This will lower the demand on safety nets while also providing the funds to pay down the deficits over the course of five to ten years.

Romney is going to win this election because our country depends on his victory. Waldman's incognizance as well as that of most democrat voters, will be defeated by those that are aware and others that are learning the truth.

In 1976 I voted for Carter. Don't be caught on the wrong side of history on this one.

If Romney is elected, we will be attacked by a nuclear attack. BUsh and the Repukeliscum allowed 9/11 to happen, and killed thousands of AMericans.

A vote for Romney is a vote in favor of a nuclear attack on the US.

If you voted for Carter in 1976 you were actually on the right side of history, had you voted for him again in 1980 you would have been on the wrong side of history. As for Romney winning because our country depends on his victory is almost as ludicrous as Chuck Norris saying God is depending on you to vote against Obama.

Undoubtedly a close election; but for those smarties questioning the polls, I'd look at he Wall St Journal poll of tossup states. The trend is not favorable to Romney and its very unlikely that the debates will turn the tables in a big way. I expect both to be well prepared and we will get all the key messages repeated; Romney has boxed himself in too much on taxes, immigration and choice to get out of this hole. Anyway he would have been a disaster on foriegn policy as President; we have a $10 trillion war with Iran that raises oil prices to over $200 and inflation to double digits. Doing nothing will sound terrific in comparison...

The polls are bogus and everyone with a mind knows it. They are geared to poll in dem districts. The debates will seal Romney's victory. The lib talking points will be crushed; it wasn't conservative policies that got us into the financial mess, it was democrats who did that, and Ryan and Romney will pounce on that. Libs forced banks to make 3 to 6 trillion in bad loans. And obama didn't bailout the auto industry. He broke the law by bailing out the united auto workers union, and screwing the bond holders. Don't forget obama is a homosexual, which real Black Christians will never vote for. They are the ones who stopped all the marriage ballots on States. Plus, obama supports the murder of infant babies in the womb. They will bring that out too. Romney will win by 3 to 5 points.

Clueless stupidity about polls.

A lot of whiny Republicans lurking here eager to distract from the fact that an obstructionist House has absolutely no effect on the unemployment rate. It's all Obama's fault.

Well, moron, oversampling Dems has NOTHING to do with the poll results. You Repukes are so clueless about polling, its beyond amazing.

Rasmussen a reliable poll? What I'm reading is that Rasmussen is skewed in favor of Republican/conservative candidates because it contacts voters only by land-line phones, leaving out appoximately one third of American households that have only cell phone service -- and cell phone users lean Democratic. Rasmussen also does not conduct in person sampling of opinion, which also tends to produce numbers that favor the Democrats.
Gravis samples opinion in a similar way -- so sampling of cell phone users -- and is usually a Republican-leaning "outlier" like Rasmussen.

I agree that debates don´t change opinions. I desagree that debates are irrelivant to the election results. The Kennedy and Nixon, as well as the Reagan Carter debates come to mind.

I'd have preferred the headline to read The Debates Won't Save America

And would hope that the writer is wrong of course.

And of course they do change things around as the previous poster wrote.

" I desagree that debates are irrelivant to the election results. The Kennedy and Nixon, as well as the Reagan Carter debates come to mind".

The Obama team are already showing concern and are trying to lower public expectations about their man's debate capability against Romney.

The Debates

Obama won’t be able to breeze through these debates with Romney as he did with McCain because Romney’s team will have prepared plenty and all the zingers, and one-liners will be prepackaged and ready for delivery.

Obama would much prefer to be the one talking and setting the tone behind his calm demeanor, but as the incumbent with a failed record to defend, he will not get that opportunity.

If Obama freezes, pouts, or dodges too much, the Romney camp will replay it 24/7 in every swing state until Election Day!

I think you underestimate the dynamics of what may happen on a TV screen. Yes of course the viewers will see what they want to see to confirm their predetermined preferences. They will hope the debate will reinforce the correctness of their wise and passionate decision to back one candidate or the other. The media will analyze and interpret and prepare the food for thought for viewers to consume and the menu will be completely different depending on whether the cook is FoxNews or MSNBC. But seeing the two candidates face to face exposing not just their thoughts but also the tone of their voices and body language can have a powerful effect . The moderator has the power to wield the weapon of the question and followup to devastating effect. Moreover, it is likely the candidates will have to look at video of previous statements maybe gotcha statements like the "47%" and account for their content. In fact this campaign is so dominated by bumper sticker phrases taken out of context that the debate could devolve into mudslinging with no policy discussion. A very cool, steady Obama will triumph over an easily flustered Romney who will be immediately placed on the defensive to defend indefensible statements denigrating half the electorate.

Repeatedly citing Rasmusen and Gallup is clinging to straws. Anyway Obama is up in both. The Republicans are counting on voter suppression in lieu of actual support.

The Romney/Ryan economic fix will do just the opposite. It may optimize corporate profits short term, but will destroy most of America by destroying middle class job opportunities and wage levels; and it will remove the safety nets that carry innocent hard workers through periods of unemployment due to lack of job opportunities (not because they don't want to work). The Republican dog eat dog and survival of the economic fittest strategy works well for multi-millionaires, but crashes the rest of the economy, and will turn the U.S. into another third world country with a the very rich and the very poor, and no one in the middle.

October 15, 2012
Hello, my fellow American voters!
I watched the Oct. 3rd presidential and Oct. 11th vice-presidential debates.
Romney-Obama debate covered 7 topics: jobs; budget deficit/debt; social security/entitlements; federal regulation of economy; healthcare; federal government role in economy; partisan gridlock.
Ryan-Biden debate covered 10 topics: Libya; Iran; economy; medicare/social security/entitlements; taxes/tax reform/spending/budget cuts; military policy; Afghanistan; Syria; abortion; negative campaign tactics.
As an INDEPENDENT, I support the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Romney and Ryan won both debates.
Ryan won despite Biden’s consistently rude/disrespectful behavior during the debate.
Biden’s tactics to evade issues/truth were disrespectful to Americans interested in facts, figures, forecasts, and solutions for real people with real problems.
Biden interrupted Ryan often, laughed often while Ryan was talking, and pointed his finger often.
Romney and Ryan won with substance, integrity, respect, clarity, facts, commitment, inspiration, and leadership. But these debates are NOT about who wins but rather about who is the best person in terms of qualifications/character to lead our country to solve problems and make life better for all Americans.
I am inspired by Romney/Ryan, and I hope that you are too!
Best regards,
Cas Lee

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