Mitt Romney has won the first debate. On that, I agree with the first round of the so-called instant polls and the opinion of various pundits.
In my blog yesterday, I discussed the necessity for Romney to change the dynamics of his campaign by being aggressive and going on the offense. And he pulled it off. Romney was better prepared, appeared more confident and seemed to enjoy himself up on the podium. In fact, he was even able to show a human side by interacting with the moderator, being humorous and using several personal stories to make his case. Clearly, the strategic decision to invest several days of Romney’s precious time into debate preparation has paid off. The President, on the other hand, gave a tired and weary impression. He didn’t capitalize on several of Romney’s weaknesses such as the comment about the 47% or his background as an investment banker. The reason for this is probably that he didn’t want to give Romney a chance to rebut the attacks directly.
Then again, topic-wise this was the most challenging debate for Obama. The economy is indeed not going well in the USA and it is happening on Obama’s watch. The duel on October 16 will be held in a “town hall” format where the questions for the candidates come from the audience and Obama can benefit from his likeability and his street credibility. The last debate finally will cover foreign politics. While this is not an easy topic for Obama either, it’s still friendlier terrain than jobs and the economy.
I suspect Obama’s small lead in national polls to disappear over the next few days. Then, it will probably remain a very close race up until Election Day. By the way, with 20 million tweets, last night’s debate is the most tweeted about event in U.S. election campaign history.