October 2, 2012

Debate Night thoughts

Obama supporters already know who won tomorrow's debate.
I've been reading opinions about the debate tomorrow night, and the consensus seems to fall into two categories.  Firstly, Democrats are downplaying the expectations for the president - he's not a great debater and Romney is, so Romney should win this thing.  Secondly, Republicans seem to think Romney needs to take the battle to Obama because he's down a few points and this is his chance to take a few calculated risks and go after Obama in a specific way while contrasting it with his own specific plans for recovery.

On the first point, there are lots of reasons to discount the pre-debate spin from the left.  Clearly they are just trying to lower expectations so that anything close to a tie with Romney can be counted as a win, and a loss can be written off - we didn't have time to prepare like Romney did, Romney is a better debate but Obama is still a better man to be president, etc.

On the second point, I agree.  Mitt Romney needs to shake up things a little bit.  If Democrats have been hiding behind some suspect polls favoring Obama, this is the time to fix that problem.  Yes the polls may be inaccurate, but they can act as a way to suppress Romney voters from turning out.  The polls should sort themselves out closer to the election or even the election itself can refute the validity of all the polls, but the polls, right or wrong, are a problem.  They need to be addressed.  A great debate performance can really help.

The polls though are a secondary effect.  The primary purpose is to make voters comfortable with the idea of a Romney presidency.  That means getting voters comfortable with him as a person, and more confident in his ideas for the country than with Obama's.  That boils down to two words: humanize and contrast.

What I expect is that Romney, who has had ample time to prepare and has more invested in success tomorrow, will do well.  He will probably try a few long bombs and trick plays to use football vernacular.  And he will play defense well on the re-tread Bain attacks.  The question is whether he will do well enough to make a significant difference.  He'll have two more debates to try again, but this one is likely the one that will provide the biggest opportunity to move the dial.

What I expect from Obama, is a an adequate performance.  He'll do okay, which will be good enough to get the media to start the spin that he won or at least managed a draw.  Romney knows that, which is all the more reason why he needs a clear win, which is why he'll try to get one.

It should be an interesting night.

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