The Burden Has Shifted
October 19, 2012
Why has the presidential race changed so dramatically?
The change in polling results, attitudes, and news media coverage in the last three weeks has been as decisive as any campaign in my lifetime.
Just before the first debate President Obama seemed confident, on offense, and driving toward victory.
The Romney team seemed confused, lacking in energy and potentially sliding toward defeat.
The elite media was delighted with the way 2012 was shaping up.
Their candidate, the good liberal, was winning.
The conservative, already unacceptable as a Republican, was losing.
Everything seemed just fine.
Then disaster struck in the first debate.
Mitt Romney entered the debate with three great advantages.
First, he is a much more reasonable person than the caricature the Obama campaign had advertised for three months. The very exaggerations of their attacks made Romney seem more reasonable and more acceptable. The same thing had happened to Reagan in 1980 with the same result.
Second, Romney is smart and very hard working. He had gone to Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School at the same time. He had simply prepared much more methodically and more thoroughly than Obama.
Third, Romney actually has thought a lot about the country’s problems and his plans came across to a lot of Americans as a lot more thoughtful than the four years of Obama’s failures.
The Romney advantages were dramatically multiplied by the Obama failure.
It is hard to understand how Obama could have been as lacking in energy, lacking in engagement, and lacking in enthusiasm as he was that night. He was just plain bad. It was the worst debate appearance by an incumbent president in the history of debates.
Biden’s performance was a disaster. Bozo the clown is not a reassuring model for Vice President.
Ryan was two years old when Biden was elected to the Senate.
As the next generation candidate, Ryan was cautious, controlled, and careful.
Biden interrupted Ryan 82 times in 91 minutes. If your teenager was that obnoxious you would send them to their room. If your grandfather was that out of control at the Thanksgiving table, you would begin considering how to get him an exam.
Kellyanne Conway of the Polling Company suggested that Biden turned off women by being the man who cut them off and refused to listen.
My advisor Randy Evans said his son reported that his friends all knew obnoxious older people who showed no respect for young people and they were turned off by Biden.
Then came the townhall meeting. Obama was energetic and engaged. He won on style. He lost on substance. In a bad economy substance matters more than style.
Both Biden and Obama said things so untrue that they guaranteed the debate would continue for days after the event as people corrected them.
In a few weeks Obama gave people permission to vote against him while Romney was winning their acceptance as a credible alternative.
There is still one debate and a lot of campaigning to go but the burden has now shifted from Romney to Obama.