Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mitt Won But Does It Even Matter?

Mitt Romney undoubtedly won the first presidential debate. Who’d have thought that Ken Doll would out-shine Mr. Charisma, himself? Of course Obama was on the defensive and so had the most difficult task. He’s been President for nearly four years and had to defend high unemployment, the huge deficit and his controversial Obamacare.

However Romney also had big challenges he needed to overcome. He had to convince the American People that he was the right man for the job. He had to overcome stereotypes of him being super-rich and out-of-touch.

Romney won the debate largely by:

1.    Focusing on JOBs, JOBs, JOBs. The no. 1 issue. In one sentence it seemed like he said the word Jobs 49 times, which although annoying, got the message across.

2.    Looking straight-ahead most of the time. Looking into the camera. Whereas Obama often had his head down. A friend pointed out Obama did better when he looked straight into the camera.

3.    Having sharp simple answers. Obama was longwinded and his answers were harder to follow.

4.    Obama seemed professorial and not passionate.

Obama was strongest when he was most passionate, particularly when he spoke of his Grandma and related that to Medicare.

This will give Romney a much needed boost. Remember it takes a hell of a lot to beat a President and I did not see a stand-out moment à la Bill Clinton in his debate with George H.W. Bush, so Romney still has a long way to go if he is to unseat the President.

Do the Debates even matter nowadays? In the past the Presidential Debates were one of the few times voters could see Candidates on TV talking in detail about their plans for America. In light of constant media coverage of the candidates and the 24 hour news cycle, it seems likely they will become less influential.
We are no longer in the days of Kennedy and Nixon where the debate gave the public a chance to see the candidates on a TV screen as opposed to reading about them in a newspaper. The legend goes Kennedy’s good looks and charisma in stark contrast to Nixon’s shiftiness and sweating forehead helped swing the election. Similarly the contrast with the dour, mechanical Bush and the charismatic, energetic Clinton helped put Clinton in The White House.

Nixon sweating during the debate with JFK.
Mitt did well but I’m not sure he had an iconic moment, one that compares to JFK or Clinton. Given the fact that we can now watch the candidates speak any time of day online or on TV, are the Debates becoming a quaint political relic of a bygone age?

Kennedy/Nixon Debate.

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