I know you are all anxiously awaiting my analysis of last night’s debate (that’s a cue to most of you to stop reading now – this will be boring and probably piss you off), so… Here we go…
Romney – Was very effective hitting the following point: Whatever Obama’s plan is, he’s had four years to implement it, and has achieved no results. This, in a nutshell, is how Romney wins the election. It is a great argument, largely because it is simple and it is true. He landed some solid blows with it last night. Going forward the heart of his campaign should be focused on that one thing and one thing only – the ineffectiveness of Obama.
As for the rest of his performance, he did exactly what he needed to do – look presidential, and don’t say anything stupid.
Obama – Missed some key opportunities last night. The only way Obama wins is by countering the “ineffectiveness” argument. Obama has to point out exactly how he has been effective. There are three topics where he can do this:
1) The trajectory of the economy. Yes the economy is still down, but when he took office it was heading down and heading down rapidly. Obama has to make the argument that he stopped the downward spiral, that the economy has not only leveled off, but is now, at least marginally, headed back up.
2) GM. This has been potrayed as a bailout of a single company that deserved to fail. He has to present this as the saving of an entire industry. There is an argument to be made here, the failure of GM could have crippled the auto industry in this country, especially in light of the competition from Europe and Japan.
3) Obamacare. He has to own this, and own it in a big way. He staked his entire first term to it, a huge risk (arguably a huge mistake), so he has to explain why it was so important. He has to do what he failed to do in the first place – he has to sell it to the American public. Granted, a difficult task to be sure, but there is a case to be made there.
On all three points, Obama touched on each one briefly, but utterly failed to make a case with any of them. Swing and a miss. To make matters worse, he had no response, none at all, to Romney’s “ineffectiveness” argument. This I don’t understand – how did they not see that coming?
So… Round One goes to Romney.
It will be interesting to see how the candidates recalibrate for round two.