The first debate is now recent history and we all get the pleasure of picking it apart piece by piece. There are lessons to be learned from the Denver debate for both sides and their supporters and we won’t really get to see if they are taken to heart until the next round (although we can predict Biden and Ryan were taking their notes as well). Yet, until the second debate comes, let’s talk about what we saw and didn’t see.
Coming into this most people already gave in to the fact we weren’t going to hear anything new or any truly solid information from either candidate. Over the years the debates have devolved into long commercial-free political ads for the two major parties, but that doesn’t mean the debates have no effect. The effect, especially in today’s instantaneous and continuing 24-hour news cycle, is the pundits and prognosticators run wild with second-by-second emotional reactions from viewers and handpicked focus groups. What we really get from this is not what people learn about policy choices or views of government growth and responsibility, but whether or not they felt emotionally connected to the candidate and how “presidential” they looked.
With that in mind, there are really two different outcomes to the first debate: Mitt won, Obama let Mitt win.
Through the looking glass of emotional reaction, body language and personality, Mitt swung for the fences and landed a solid first base hit. He came off as more confident, more secure and more on top of his facts. That’s why we see a lot of the initial reactions skewing towards him. Yet, there is the second way of viewing the debate, through what the candidates actually said and weighing that against reality. This gives a slightly different outcome.