This evening President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney traded punches for ninety minutes at Hofstra University in the second Presidential debate. The passivity that the president displayed during the first debate was replaced with a willingness to engage and push back against the man who wants his job. While Mr. Obama was clearly a different man this evening, I don't think it equated to anything resembling a clear-cut victory.
Supporters of the President are likely to try and transform this evening's renewed vigor for the process into a victory and probable improvement in the polls, but I caution them to do so carefully. Mr. Romney had for the most part, another solid evening. There were a few times where he seemed to get a bit flustered but only mildly so. Romney was able to continually hit the President on the economy, to which Mr. Obama usually pivoted to some different angle or topic he preferred.
There will be some interesting fact checking on the President's remarks about his statements in the Rose Garden following the attacks in Libya and his charge that Romney stood in front of a coal plant and called it a killer. Likewise, Romney's comments on immigration, gun control and workplace inequalities. Look for write-ups on Factcheck.org and Politifact.com.
Good News/Bad News for President Obama:
The good news is that President Obama woke up and performed much, much better than he did in the first debate earlier this month. It would be hard to say that he hurt his chances in any way this evening. This should give him some momentum heading into the final debate next Monday evening and throughout the last three weeks of the campaign.
The bad news for Obama is that it wasn't that clear of a victory tonight. A CBS snap poll showed Obama as the winner by about 7% over Romney. CNN gave it slightly to Obama, but within the margin of error. This will not produce any dramatic effect on the polls, which means the national polls may be mostly a dead-heat heading into the next debate.
Good News/Bad News for Governor Romney:
The good news for Mr. Romney is that he had another good showing. Its hard for me to see President doing much better than he did tonight, so you could say he's taken Obama's best shot and for the most part, stayed on his feet. Any pre-debate notion that Romney was out of his league in terms of debating Mr. Obama have been proven baseless.
The bad news for Romney is that Obama is back. Given the fairly small path that exists for him to reach 270 electoral votes. He still needs to swing a group of battleground states into his column and that's still a heavy lift, especially in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, etc.
A big sigh from the Obama campaign on his renewed intensity, but in the end, tonight's debate was a slight win for Obama or, perhaps a draw. Given that, who won?
It depends, I guess...
The debate was a slight win for the President, the polls are very close nationally and the path for victory is far easier for Mr. Obama than it is for Mr. Romney. The next debate will be on foreign policy which, a few weeks ago would've been considered a slam dunk for the President. Given Libya's ongoing situation, Mr. Obama will need to be on his game next Monday night.