October 16, 2012 3 Comments
Obama wins. But my first question to myself– what would we be saying if Obama had had a decent performance last week instead of such a poor one. In contrast to last week, he knocked it out of the park. In an absolute sense, I think it was solid, though certainly not spectacular. For the most part, though, he did everything right this week that he failed to do last week. Romney was not bad, in fact he had some really good moments, but I do think that he regressed to the mean somewhat from last week. The thing is, though, we cannot grade a debate in an absolute sense– only in the existing political context. And in this context, this was a huge win for Obama. Tonight was all about his performance and he did about as good– maybe even better– than could have reasonably be expected. As Ezra tweeted, “Romney won the first debate by a larger margin than I expected. Obama won the second debate by a larger margin than I expected.” Probably about right– but that first debate was one hell of a margin that truly did shake up the campaign.
From what I saw on twitter, some Dems are really getting ahead of themselves. Just because Romney got a four point bounce for winning a debate does not mean that Obama does. For one, last week, Obama was not very good. Romney was fine tonight; Obama was just better. I think that as part of a larger tightening of the race, Romney picked up a good chunk of latent supporters in the past week. Now, a strong Obama performance could have kept that to a 1-2 point swing instead of 4-5, but that alternate reality did not happen. No doubt this was a very good night for Obama, but I don’t think it gives us reason to expect another fundamental shake-up of the election. My best guess– this actually results in a swing of the polls back towards Obama for maybe a point or so, maybe a little more. But this remains a very tight race.