I’ve written a reaction and analysis to this morning’s Obama-Romney debate for The Voice newspaper and in the course of my research I scored the candidates on each question. Of course such scoring is entirely subjective but, as a left-leaning activist who wants Obama to win, I noted that the president was only marginally ahead.
This is in contrast to much of the media response which was to crown Obama the undisputed winner. But then, the media has always had a predisposition for absolutes. It’s either a win for one or other of the candidates or a dead-heat tie. But what if the actual result was somewhere between a tie and an Obama win?
And what about the questions that Romney edged? By weighting the 11 audience questions according to the issues that matter most a different picture emerges. Again, this is completely subjective. My ‘most important’ issues will be different from everyone else’s … and I, as a British citizen, don’t even have a vote!
I rated each candidates’ answers by substance, delivery, soundbites and confidence. On my system there were a maximum of 40 points available for each answer, and this is how I thought it panned out:
Q. 1 – JOBS: Obama wins by 31 to Romney’s 28. A low key start for both.
Q. 2 – GAS PRICES: Romney wins by 32 points to Obama’s 27. An easy win for Romney… how could be not win on this question?
Q. 3 – TAX: Obama wins narrowly by 36 points to Romney’s 34. The president scores by explaining his strategy and mocking his opponent.
Q.4 – GENDER INEQUALITY: Obama wins handsomely by 34 points to Romney’s 27. Linking healthcare to women’s equality was a masterstroke!
Q.5 – GEORGE W BUSH: Obama wins by 34 points to Romney’s 29. Well, let’s face it, the president is the most different to Dubya!
Q.6 – OBAMA’S RECORD: Romney wins big by 38 points to Obama’s 30. President poor defending record and impact on typical family.
Q.7 – IMMIGRANTS: Tie! 33-all. Romney scored by ridiculing president for not delivering promised law, Obama hit back linking opponent to Arizona.
Q.8 – LIBYA ATTACK: Tie! 33-all. Romney line about Obama visiting Las Vegas blunted by effective counter.
Q.9 – FIREARMS: Obama wins by 33 points to Romney’s 30. Presidents’ jibe about Romney flip-flopping to seek NRA endorsement shaded it!
Q.10 – OUTSOURCING JOBS: Obama wins 32 points to Romney’s 30. Republican’s comments about trade war with China marked him down here.
Q.11 – MISPERCEPTIONS: Tie! 35-all. Both candidates ended strongly.
That gives Obama a nine-point lead, a clear victory but still a strong Romney showing even if the Republican had lost some of his first debate charm and confidence.
Take out the question about George W Bush, which won’t count at the polls, and Obama’s lead shrinks to just four points. The remove the question about firearms on the basis that most gun-toting NRA members will be voting Republican anyway, and the incumbents’ lead shrinks to a solitary point.
Obama’s inability to defend his own record when it came to the cumulative impact on ordinary families was concerning, but then neither candidate scored particularly highly when it came to understanding the suffering of the average American.
But it was also notable that there was very little from Obama about the second term he seeks, prompting the question what is there to get excited about? Despite this I still thought Obama was more convincing of the two over who had the most serious plan for the future.
The debate was alpha-male - particularly from Romney – without too many seriously hard blows thrown. Romney was the slightly more aggressive (hungry), while Obama was the most likeable (occasional smiles). So far, so predictable.
So, a reasonable victory for Obama today but he will still have to up his game if he is to see off Romney. Perhaps he is gradually building up to it? It certainly looks that way. Expect some killer punches in the third debate!
By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway