October 17, 2012 Did Obama really win the debate?
Conventional wisdom seems to be that Obama won the debate last night. I think both candidates made their key points, though Obama was a little more coherent on some exchanges.
To me the more interesting question is: how does this change the election? Is Obama going to be able to come back from behind?
Imagine one tie-breaking swing voter (or a set of million identical ones, if you want to be slightly less absurd about it).
If he/she/they were thinking before the debate: “I really want to vote for Obama, but after the first debate I want to make sure that he still wants the job and isn’t completely burned out”, then Obama won. I think Obama did well enough to persuade my mythical swing voter that he is still minimally capable.
On the other hand, if my mythical swing voter thought: “I’d like to replace Obama, Romney has persuaded me that he is an adequate replacement, and I’ll vote for him unless I see some really good reason not to” Romney won just by not messing up, and will win the election if he continues to avoid major mistakes.
If my second scenario is true, Obama might have won the battle (by doing slightly better than Romney last night) but still lost the proverbial war.