What Happened Last Night
Here’s the analysis of last night’s presidential debate that you aren’t seeing anywhere else (at least I’m not seeing it). It comes from America’s least known but most accurate political analyst–me:
Mitt Romney had two primary tasks last night. The first was to demonstrate that he has the knowledge and understanding of America’s problems, and a conception of how to deal with them, that is required in a president. He had to demonstrate that he is neither a right-wing monster, nor a bloody-fanged capitalist who cares for no one but his fellow plutocrats. He had to create the impression that he is presidential, and ready to take office. Whether you agree with any particular policy prescriptions he had, he made that case.
Second, he had to either elevate himself to Barack Obama’s level, or bring the president down to his, or both. By that I mean that he had to re-mold perceptions so that the election is no longer between an experienced president and a wannabe. He needed to make clear that he is as ready for prime time, if not more so, than the incumbent. Once again, I think he did so, helped out by an opponent who seemingly wanted to be anywhere but where he was, who seemed irritated at times that Romney had the temerity to disagree with him, and who appeared hopelessly unprepared at others.
Why is this all important? Because Barack Obama has never gotten over the 50% hump. Throughout this year, the percentage of the electorate that has said he deserves another term has been less than half. What that says is that more than half of voting-age Americans want to see someone else in the White House. Until now, however, at least some portion of that majority has had enough reservations about Romney that they would either have stayed home, or would have drifted to the natural default of going with the devil you know, much as they would have preferred not to. All year, Romney has had to convince that portion of the majority that he was up to the job, and that they could with some degree of confidence vote for him knowing that he would be at least as capable, and very possibly more so, than the incumbent. I think Romney crossed that threshold last night, and if so, I predict that we could see a swing that sends not only most of the undecideds his way, but also that he peels off at least 1-3% of Obama’s most tenuous supporters.
None of this is to say that last night was decisive, or that the election is over by any means. But I do think that Romney is now the favorite, and could well surprise the experts with the percentage of the popular vote that he receives.
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