October 17, 2012

ALL THE GOP EVER NEEDED WAS A PLAUSIBLE ALTERNATIVE:

Obama Wins Second Debate, But Romney Scores With Centrist, Likable Storyline (Peter Beinart Oct 17, 2012, Daily Beast)

[I]t's possible this race is no longer about Barack Obama. For days I've struggled to figure out why the first debate so dramatically shifted the polls. I don't think it's mostly because Obama was lousy. After all, most Americans have seen Obama speak well dozens of times; they know he just had an off night. The first debate moved the polls because Obama, through his passivity, allowed Romney to shine. Romney came across as competent, moderate and normal, something he hadn't managed all summer.

And I suspect--or should I say, fear--that the reason the polls moved so much is that there were a lot of voters who had tuned Obama out as a result of the bad economy. They were ready to vote against him so long as Romney passed a reasonable threshold, which he did. We've seen this before in presidential campaigns: In 1980, Americans were looking for an excuse to vote against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, and so what mattered most in the debates was that Reagan didn't look like a right-wing maniac. In 2008, Americans were looking for an excuse to vote against the de facto incumbent, John McCain, and so what mattered most in the debates was that Obama didn't look like a novice. If the debates are really about people disillusioned with Obama becoming comfortable with Romney, it doesn't really matter that Obama did better than Romney tonight because Romney did well enough. He again and again reminded Americans that the economy is worse than Obama said it would be, and he offered some kind of plan to make it better.

Mildly backwards, in that re-election campaigns never have much to do with the challenger.
Posted by at October 17, 2012 5:38 AM
  

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