The first presidential debate on Wednesday night will be the biggest moment so far in election 2012. It could very well be a game-changer for Republican Mitt Romney, or it could solidify the re-election of President Barack Obama.
The 90 minutes of the Denver debate will be critical, and will very much set the tone for the next five weeks of this election.
Get ready to rumble, right?
Call it the Duel of Denver. Or the Clash of Colorado. Or the make-it-break moment of the 2012 election.
Either way, the last time we had a political duel of this magnitude (Aaron Burr vs Alexander Hamilton), one man didn’t make it out alive.
Don’t expect the same thing to happen Wednesday, but definitely expect the competition to be fierce, and the rhetoric sharp.
Who will be watching? Almost everyone. It is being reported that there is a bit less interest in this year’s first presidential debate than there was four years ago. Still, the debate will be the biggest venue yet for each candidate to lay out their plan and win over voters. According to a Pew study from earlier in the week, a substantial majority of voters plan to watch the debate: 62% say they are very likely to watch, another 21% say they are somewhat likely. If Romney is on his game, he may be able to pull a big upset on Wednesday.
It is estimated that 60+ million people will tune in. The first debate is typically the most-watched of the series.
This will be like the Monday Night Football of politics.
Here’s how it will work: The moderator will pose a prepared question to a candidate and the candidate will have 2 minutes to answer. Their opponent will then have one minute for rebuttal. The moderator can, at his discretion, extend the candidates time by 30 seconds on either end.
In reality, these rules are merely guidelines (especially since neither side has actually agreed to the rules). Some media outlets will seek to address this lack of structure ... CNN, for example, will be running a game clock calculating the total time each candidate gets to speak.
A live stream can be found here:
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5:20 p.m. TV Numbers, Courtesy of PM Pundit Amy Stoller:
Preliminary results show that last night’s presidential debate was the highest rated debate of the election so far, with a 19% increase in viewers over 2008. According to the Fast National Nielsen data, 37.41 million people between the ages of 18 and 49 watched the debate on network television, and approximately 25 million tuned in to the post-debate analysis. Data on cable network viewership will be available later today. Nielsen emphasizes that these numbers are very preliminary and subject to change, but, if they’re accurate, they show a 19% increase in viewers over the 2008 Obama-McCain debate, which attracted only 36 million viewers in cable and network readings combined. Neither debate comes close to matching the historic high of the 1980 Carter-Reagan debate, which was watched by 80.1 million people.
Yesterday’s debate did set a record on social media site Twitter, though: Twitter analysts say that it was the most tweeted political event in history, generating 10.3 million tweets. Jim Lehrer’s “let’s not” response to Mitt Romney’s request to move to another debate topic prompted a staggering 158,690 tweets per minute and inspired a Jim Lehrer parody twitter account, @SilentJimLehrer. The political issue that sparked the most response was the discussion of Medicare, which generated 150,000 tweets per minute. You can see a graphic showing twitter activity during the debate here.
Many analysts consider that that this social media traffic could provide a useful measure of both viewership and audience reaction. In fact, the owners of a Canadian participation TV platform, iPowow! offered to provide a platform real-time voting on social media, which could be announced, American Idol-style, during the debate. The networks declined.
2:30 p.m. Who Won the Presidential Debate: When We Get Over Our Debate Hangover, We Will Realize Romney Was All Lies ... Courtesy of PM Pundit Mark Kogan.
When Romney’s campaign said they wouldn’t let their campaign be dictated by fact checkers, I had no idea how seriously they meant it.
By most accounts, Mitt Romney delivered a sucker punch to President Obama in the first of three presidential debates. As I wrote last night, Romney came off as polished and passionate where Obama appeared disinterested and ill-prepared. But while Romney will surely enjoy a successful debate performance for the rest of this week’s news cycle, his shocking misrepresentations of his campaign platform are going to come back to bite him hard.
Pieces are already sprouting up addressing Romney’s loose license with both his campaign stances and reality. The lurch to the middle that made Romney come across so well last night is going to hurt him as soon as people realize that everything Romney said last night that they liked so much lies in direct opposition to everything he and running mate Paul Ryan have been saying for months.
In one of his rare moments of lucidity last night, President Obama quipped that Romney was changing his positions five weeks before the election in an effort to distract people from the campaign he had been running for over a year. And you know what? Obama was right.
On taxes, Romney claimed that he had no intention of cutting taxes on the rich or enacting a tax cut that would increase the deficit. On no planet where math exists is that even remotely true. Romney has repeatedly said he wants to restore and expand the Bush-era tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. He has stated time and again that he wants to end the estate and gift tax and drop everyone’s tax rates by 20%. Claiming that he has no intention of cutting taxes is blatant dishonesty.
With Medicare, Romney trotted out one of the biggest lies of his campaign season — that President Obama wanted to slash $716 billion from Medicare in cuts that would target seniors. Every fact-checking organization following the campaign trail has declared that to be false, but Romney knows that saying “Obama is cutting $700 billion from Medicare” is easier to score points with than the complex explanation of why that’s not true.
On health care, Romney promised to protect coverage of pre-existing conditions for people who maintain continuous coverage, which would be relevant if it hadn’t already been the law since 1996. Romney also claimed that his plan would cover everyone with pre-existing conditions, something that his campaign explicitly walked back just a few weeks ago, the last time he tried to make that claim. The lie was so bad that Romney’s own campaign adviser admitted that pre-existing conditions would not be covered by the Romney plan immediately following the debate.
But if the lies are so transparent, why lie? Because it seems to work, at least in the short term.
The results of the debate should be proof enough. Within minutes of the debate ending Republicans were gloating on how Romney “crushed” Obama, and Democrats were bemoaning the end of the world and how Obama was throwing the game. Few, if any, major officials decided to focus on details like Romney explicitly saying that his tax plan can just make up the numbers necessary to work or that his tax plan won’t raise taxes while simultaneously claiming he will cut tax deductions (guess what that does to taxes).
However, the press and the public are coming around after their post-Romney debate performance hangover and starting to ask questions. The Obama campaign is already starting to run ads focusing on Romney’s misstatements of fact and pointing out that some of the “studies” Romney cited to in support of his policies were actually editorials. Romney’s campaign has been walking back claims the governor made since the debate ended last night. But the question is whether the damage has already been done.
Romney’s performance and likely poll bump is sure to energize a conservative base that has been lukewarm at best in support of their candidate. To Romney’s base, the fact that he lied isn’t going to be relevant – red-meat voters are looking for style, not substance, and Romney delivered in droves. Energizing the ground game going into the last month of the campaign, especially in swing states, will do a great deal to put Romney back in contention when he was all but out.
The Obama campaign will have to start playing hardball with the Romney campaign if they hope to prevent another debacle like last night. Obama should have anticipated Romney’s sprint for the middle and should have been prepared to call him out on his blatant fabrications. He will have nobody to blame but himself if he fails to prepare accordingly for the next debate. Romney has shown his hand and doubled-down on his flip-flops and hypocrisy. Whether the president decides to call him on it may very well decide the outcome of the election.
11:50 a.m. Mitt Romney Won the Debate: Obama is Too Nice, Allows Romney to Get Away With Lies ... from PM Pundit Ed Williams:
On Wednesday, President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off for the first time as presidential nominees. The debate lasted for 90 minutes and focused on domestic policy. Out of the gate, Mitt Romney was on the attack and continued to fight that way throughout the night. President Obama defended his policies and attempted to draw clear lines between himself and Mitt Romney. In a final analysis, Mitt Romney left the debate stage feeling like the victor and has given himself a much needed lifeline in the election.
Many commentators will suggest that one candidate or another won the debate, but we are often communicating different things. When I say that Mitt Romney won the debate, I mean that he did the best job of being aggressive, skewing the facts in his favor, and casting doubt on the opposing policy perspective. Unfortunately, much of what Mitt Romney said were just flat lies or in direct contradiction to his previous positions. What is even more unfortunate for Democrats is that President Obama let Romney get away with the lies and contradictions all night.
President Obama displayed on stage last night the same behavior that I have critiqued before in his presidency: he’s simply too cool, calm, and collected to be effective. When Mitt Romney lies about the $716 billion medicare to Obamacare transfer, Obama should have called Romney out on it. Instead, Obama let the lie continue and Romney used the same lie in his closing argument. When Mitt Romney started to say that his plan in Massachusetts is different than Obamacare because of how it was enacted, Obama should have pushed back on exactly what is different between Romneycare in Massachusetts and Obamacare now. The answer is there are no substantive differences. When Romney danced around the economic regulation question, Obama should have pushed back on him and made him explain exactly what regulations he would get rid of.
President Obama has to stop playing nice. It is unfathomable to me that he has not yet learned that being the nice guy will not win you anything with your opponents in the political world. I have a few words for President Obama:
Please stop trying to be everybody’s friend. Mitt Romney wants your job and on Wednesday you let him look more viable at having it than he did before the debate. I do not know why you failed to address Romney’s most poignant flaws in this election, i.e. the fluidity of his positions, his notorious 47% comments, and his unpopular social issue stances. Over the next couple of days, the polls in swing states will likely stop leaning your direction and go back to neutral. If that happens, it is based on your performance in the debate. You have two more debates and if you plan to debate with the same lack of aggression as you did last night, please give Mitt Romney the keys to the White House after the last debate. At the DNC, you said something really, really important. You said, “I am the President.” I know that you know it, please act like it! The time for playing nice and being cool is over!
For high quality coverage and analysis of the debate, including play by play and color commentary of how it went down, see here.
Thursday, 9 a.m. Full Debate Grades: What were the grades of Romney's and Obama's performances? And who won? From PM Pundit Mark Kogan:
Debate Grades: Obama: C+, Romney: B+
Mitt Romney had to have a big night tonight, and there is no question that he effectively rose to the challenge. Over 90 minutes, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama traded jabs and outlined policy positions in the first of three presidential debates on Wednesday night. Romney’s delivery was polished, as he hammered a monotone and disinterested Obama throughout the debate.
While not an unmitigated disaster for the President, Obama’s performance will haunt him in the polls for the next few weeks. Romney came across as well put together, better polished, and better composed as he attacked the President’s record on the economy and jobs.
Obama came across muted and disinterested for the majority of the debate. His most genuine moment came in the first 30 seconds, when he wished wife Michelle Obama a happy 20th anniversary. After that, he seemed barely interested in participating and his body language spoke to a candidate who had little desire to be on stage.
Romney, on the other hand, had lots of fire and passion in answering questions and going after the President’s arguments and positions. Romney maintained his composure effectively through most of the debate, despite showing signs of frustration early. The President, on the other hand, utterly failed to do so as the cameras caught him shaking his head, smirking, and mouthing disagreement while Romney was speaking, presenting a very poor and unprofessional image to those watching at home.
That said, for all of Romney’s practiced delivery, the Republican candidate fell well short on something he needed to provide: specifics. Romney contradicted himself several times, both on his tax plan (claiming he wouldn’t raise taxes, while simultaneously claiming he would eliminate deductions) and his health care reform record (claiming his plan covered pre-existing conditions when, last week, he explicitly stated it didn’t). He also talked in circles, effectively dodging both Obama’s and moderator Jim Lehrer’s calls for details. However, Obama did not take advantage of Romney’s inconsistency, as the President fumbled attempts to call Romney on his contradictions and failed to back up his assertions.
Most interestingly, Obama failed to take shots at Romney over the 47% remark. While some might argue that he was playing a “gentleman’s game” and attempting to talk policy rather than take shots at Romney, it was surprising not to see Obama follow-up on the most salient talking point of the last month.
In the end, this debate was an example of Obama playing prevent defense from start to finish. The President didn’t come across as trying to win, but rather trying to play the middle and not screw up. Whether he was sand-bagging or just blowing the opportunity, we won’t know until the next debate, but his presentation and demeanor left much to be desired for liberals who were hoping the President would put the election away tonight.
Mitt Romney came out the undisputed victor tonight and I expect the polls to reflect that truth in short order. Team Obama is going to have to drag the President into some debate prep and reawaken Candidate Obama’s fire and passion before they let him back on stage if they hope to ensure a win in November.
For full play-by-play analysis and coverage of the debate in real time, see here.
10:37 p.m. Romney Closing Statement: "I'm concerned about America."
10:37 p.m. Obama closing statement: "My faith in the American future is undiminished..."
10:37 p.m. Mitt Romney tonight promised to repeal Obamacare, but he hasn’t laid out a single specific idea to protect millions of Americans who now have coverage under the law. That’s because the truth about what he’d do would be devastating for middle class families. If he has his way,insurance companies would once again be allowed to discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions, charge women higher premiums than they charge men for the same coverage, and kick kids off their parents' plans when they graduate from college or high school.
10:25 p.m. "Mr. President you're entitled to your own plane but not to your own facts."
10:19 p.m. I respect that Obama considers himself the 1% and is OK talking about it when talking economics ... and wants to tax himself more.
10:18 p.m. Mark My Words, Jim Lehrer as moderator will make or break the presidential debate, a great analysis from PM Pundit Danielle Gram.
Sixty million viewers are expected to tune in to the first presidential debate on Wednesday between President Obama and Governor Romney, but few are watching to see the third character in this political theater: the debate’s moderator, Jim Lehrer. The choice of moderator has become increasingly important and controversial in recent years, as candidates have come to engage more directly with moderators, and the public expects moderators to solicit participation from viewers. With Lehrer facing criticism that he is a “safe choice,” he may throw us a curve ball in the first debate.
To say the selection of Lehrer as moderator was predictable would be an understatement. This will be the 12th presidential debate he has moderated since 1988.
Lehrer certainly has the experience and qualifications to make him a reasonable selection. He anchored PBS’s primary news show, the “PBS NewsHour,” from 1975-2011 and now serves as the program’s Executive Editor. His journalism has received dozens of awards, and his objectivist style makes him a likeable debate moderator.
But this year, the choice of Lehrer has drawn greater criticism. Is his 12th presidential debate the straw that broke the camel’s back? Do we really need another old white male selecting the questions asked to the presidential nominees?
This year marks the first time in 20 years that a woman has been selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to moderate a presidential debate, but many would like to see even greater diversity among moderators. Diversity matters because the moderator has the sole responsibility of selecting the questions asked (while the topics are pre-selected in a processinvolving the major campaigns and the CPD). Choose a female moderator, and a question about gender inequality in the U.S. might come up. Throw in a Hispanic moderator and the debate may take a turn toward immigration issues. Choose a Millennial moderator — gasp — and who knows what could happen!
In an age where America’s thoughts and opinions can be monitored by a quick glance at Google Trends and Twitter hashtags, presidential debates could involve more participation from the voting public. Imagine an “American Idol” meets “Meet the Press” event where viewers could text in their votes for the next question asked.
But Lehrer isn’t too interested in social media, and he hasn’t taken the criticism of his selection particularly well either.
“It’s a rough, rough world — I know that,” Mr. Lehrer told the New York Times. “And those of us who have decided to play in that world have to play by those rules. I’m susceptible to the same smears as anyone else.”
Lehrer is reportedly “seething” and “exasperated” by the increased attention paid to his selection this year, which may lead him to venture out of his comfort zone and prove that even an “old white guy” knows what matters most to Americans.
10:14 p.m. Again -- I still believe Obama is making clearer cut policy points here, highlighting more realistic, attainable, and marketable policy initiatives.
10:11 p.m. "Reagan" is one of our keywords in the PolicyMic drinking game, if you're playing at home.
10:11 p.m. Mitt Romney repeated tonight that he would repeal Wall Street reform, allowing Wall Street to return to the risky financial deals that eroded middle-class security, destroyed trillions of dollars of wealth, and cost millions of workers their jobs. And he has no plan to replace it. The Wall Street reform that President Obama championed ensures that we end taxpayer-funded bailouts of the financial sector and protects the middle class from the risky financial deals that crashed our economy in the first place. And it does so while supporting community banks – putting them on a more level playing field with Wall Street.
10 p.m. Did Obama just accuse the moderator of screwing him out of 5 seconds?
10 p.m. More Big Bird:
9:49 p.m. Who has the better tie? Pretty sure that's how some voters will be choosing today.
9:48 p.m. Key Obama quotes: “If you believe that we can cut taxes by 5 trillion-dollar and add 2 trillion-dollar in additional spending that the military is not asking for – 7 trillion-dollars, just to give you a sense, over 10 years that’s more than our entire defense budget – and you think that by closing loopholes arrest deductions for the well to do somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.
“But I think math, common sense and our history shows us that’s not a recipe for job growth. Look, we’ve tried this, we’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years, we ended up moving from surplus to deficits, and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the great depression.”
9:43 p.m. Obama is currently winning the debate. His comments have been on point and easy to digest. I thought Romney won the first 5 minutes with strong policy remarks, but he seems to be talking in circles. I would venture to say that the policy points Romney has said make little sense to the average voter ... and even the seasoned policy analyst.
In the first five minutes, Romney comes out on top. He jumps right into storytelling and empathetically telling the story of his plan. Obama appears stiff, stressed, and frustrated that he has to be there. While he talks about the middle class, he appears disconnected.
9:38 p.m. Romney's Big Bird comment is going viral:
9:25 p.m. New Question: How do we cut our deficit?
9:24 p.m. Romney kind of looks like he's tearing up, getting ready to cry?
9:23 p.m. So far no zingers by Romney.
9:21 p.m. Jim Lehrer laying down the lay!
9:20 p.m. That Donald Trump line by Obama just totally dominated Romney.
9:16 p.m. "What is this difference?!?!?!"
9:11 p.m. Romney also discusses tax loopholes, energy. Unlike Obama he isn't favor of alternative energy, but using the resources we currently have.
9:10 p.m. Obama says he wants to close tax loopholes ... discusses energy alternatives ... discusses reforming tax code.
This is funny:
9:08 p.m. Romney on the economy: A 5 point plan that focuses on education and small business. A "trickle down approach."
9:06 p.m. Obama on the economy: "When the middle class is doing well, America is doing well."
9:04 p.m. Jobs is the first question ... and the candidates will discuss their difference on jobs and the economy. I don't even really know their differences on economic policy ... and I've been covering this race since last year :-/
9:02 p.m. Funny tidbit: Neither candidate actually, formally agreed to the 2 minute format rules of the debate tonight.
9 p.m. LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!
8:57 p.m. Remember that tonight's debate will focus primarily on domestic policy, especially the economy.
8:50 p.m. It'll all be a numbers game tonight:
8:40 p.m. Under 20 mins. Get ready for the biggest moment of election 2012 this far.
8:13 p.m. Why Romney will lose at this debate: courtesy of PM Pundit Joe Sarkisian.
As President Obama and Mitt Romney square off on Wednesday evening for the first presidential debate of election 2012, Mitt will have a hard time putting a positive spin on his detrimental policy proposals which have been outed for what they really are.
Although supposedly geared towards all issues of domestic policy, it is safe to say that the debate tonight will revolve around the economy. If we are only taking into account those sources that perform solid analysis on Romney's budget plan, his ideas are frightening.
Robert Greenstein, President and Founder of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, had this to say after his organization performed a thorough analysis of the Romney budget plan:
"The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history)."
6:58 p.m. Amazing PolicyMic Live Blogs: Our incredible pundits will be providing commentary of their own all night long, from a range of liberal, conservative, and libertarian perspectives. We've got live bloggers in almost every state in America, so be sure to check out your favorites.
Like the editors, there's a prize (t-shirt, dinner with the PolicyMic team, and poster) for the most viewed live blogger, so pick your favorites. A couple of highlights to get you started: For liberal coverage, check out Joe Sarkisian here, Derek Miles here and Mark Kogan here; for conservative coverage, see Robert Lee's blog and Jesse Merkel's blog; and for libertarian perspectives, check out Christopher McDaniel here and Robert Taylor here.
Get your popcorn ready.
6:50 p.m. Do the debates even matter? PM pundit Tyler Kuhn explains: Tonight, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger (and the former governor of Massachusetts) Mitt Romney will face off in an attempt to convince voters their vision for the future of the republic is superior to their competitor’s vision. All the hype and attention the presidential debates receive begs novice and policy viewers alike to ask a fundamental question: do the presidential debates matter? And if they do, what will their role be in the course of the 2012 presidential election?
A simple explanation to the above question is that debates certainly do matter, and that they can (and do) affect the outcomes of elections. But the real answer is a bit more complicated than that — especially in the year 2012.
Ronald Reagan famously sealed his presidential fate when he asked the American public if they “were better off than they were four years ago." At the time, Reagan was polling near even (or in some cases behind) with then-President Jimmy Carter. But that final moment of the last debate between the two men took Reagan’s numbers into the political stratosphere, and resulted in his eventual landslide victory in the 1980 presidential election.
While this example may lead the reader to believe that debates do have great consequences, we must also consider the debates within the contemporary political climate.
This time around, relatively few voters are still undecided. The president, for better or for worse, is one of those politicians who is either loved or despised by voters. Few are indifferent towards him anymore. This means that Romney has a very small margin for error. There is no question that the former Bay State governor comes into Denver as the clear underdog. In order for him to make this debate worth his while, he needs to have a very strong performance. He needs to make a very plain case to the American people as to why he deserves to be president.
The timing of this year's debates also lends greater importance to the first debate. Unlike in elections past, a record number of Americans will opt into voting early in their respective states. Politicians now can’t rely on an “October Surprise” to bounce back, as early polling now matters now more than ever. Romney can’t wait much longer to get his act together; he needs to make a substantial impact on a relatively few number of voters tonight.
Obama can win this debate (and possibly this election) by playing defense. He does not need to take many gambles tonight. He would be wise to let Romney attack him and brush off any zingers, all the while appearing as presidential as possible.
Both Obama and Romney are skilled debaters, though the former hasn’t debated in four years, and the latter hasn’t debated a Democrat in a decade. While these handicaps might make the first thirty minutes or so a bit rough for both sides, I do not expect either candidate to become too flustered.
The debates do still matter to the 2012 presidential election, but they are being conducted in a different context than the debates of years past. If the debates are anything less than a stalemate, then expect Obama to continue to pull ahead of his Republican rival. If Romney can make a great impression on the few Americans who are still undecided, then the game is still on.
6:43 p.m. Obama's Other Race Speech – Conservatives are fired up today about the release of new video from 2007 showing then-Senator Barack Obama using "racially charged rhetoric" during a speech at Hampton University to an audience of African-American ministers, including Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The video debuted on Fox News's "Hannity" at 9:00 p.m., and was the banner story on the Drudge Report all evening long. Hannity told viewers, "On the eve of the first presidential debate, a bombshell is about to be dropped on the 2012 race for the White House. Because tonight, you will hear from Barack Obama like you have NEVER heard from him before. A video has been uncovered from a campaign event. … It contains some of the most divisive class-warfare and racially charged rhetoric ever used by Barack Obama. ... This is further proof that the mainstream media has been in the pocket of Barack Obama since the day that he arrived on the national stage.” The event was open to, and extensively covered by, the press at the time, so the video is hardly new material, but conservatives believe it contains new evidence of Obama's true personality. Mitt Romney has been clear to distance himself from these kinds of personality attacks (which played a pivotal role in John McCain's 2008 campaign).
So what does the video show? Using an exaggerated Southern speaking style, Obama tells the audience: "Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt 20 months later. there's a law -- federal law, when you get reconstruction money from the federal government, called the Stafford [Disaster Relief an Emergency Assistance] Act, and basically it says: When you get federal money, you gotta give a 10 percent match. The local government's got to come up with 10 percent. Every $10 federal government comes up with, local government's gotta give a dollar. Now here's the thing: When 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act, saying; 'This is too serious a problem. We can't expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that -- that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here's $10.' And that was the right thing to do. ... What's happening down in New Orleans? Where's your dollah? ... Makes no sense. ... [T]hat's why we need additional federal public transportation dollars flowing to the highest-need communities. We don't NEED to build more highways out in the suburbs, if we had people in the cities right now who want to work but have no way to gettin' to those jobs. We've gotta help connect them to the jobs that exist. We should be investing in minority-owned businesses in our neighborhoods so people don't HAVE to travel from miles away." Video here.
6:33 p.m. A quick look at the polls ... courtesy of PM Pundit Brittany Cheng: The latest election 2012 polls show that President Obama continues to hold onto his lead over GOP nominee Mitt Romney in nine of the ten battleground states. Real Clear Politics poll data suggests that Romney hangs onto North Carolina by four points and is gaining momentum in Florida, while Obama extends his lead in Nevada and New Hampshire. However, the race to the White House is still close in many key states, including Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. Here are the latest numbers, as we head into tonight's crucial presidential debate.
A WeAskAmerica poll, gathered from September 25 to 27, shows Obama holding a three-point lead over Romney. The poll projects a 49-46 split in Obama's favor, with a 2.8% margin of error.
Three weeks ago, Obama held a steady three-point lead over Romney in the sunshine state. However, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, Romney now trails by one point. The poll predicts Obama winning 47% over Romney's 46%, with a 3.3% margin of error. A September 29 to 30 Gravis Marketing poll shows similar results of Obama's one point lead heading into tonight.
Iowa has remained Obama-leaning, according to a new WeAskAmerica poll. Results collected from September 25 to 27 estimate that Obama currently has about 48% of the votes, compared to Romney's 44%, with a 2.8% margin of error. The week before, a Des Moines Registrar poll also showed an Obama four-point lead over Romney.
According to two recent polls, North Carolina is the only one of 10 battleground states in which Romney commands a lead over Obama. An October 2 Rasmussen poll suggests a 51-47 win for Romney. An ARG poll conducted from September 28 to 30 also said Romney leads by four points. However, a September 9 to October 1 SurveyUSA poll predicts an Obama win by two points. All three polls, however, has over a 4% margin of error.
A September 27 to Sept. 30 poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) reports that Obama commands a whopping 15-point lead over Romney, the highest current differential between the candidates of any swing state. An ARG poll two days prior suggest a 50-45 split, as opposed to the UNH's 54-39 prediction. Both polls have a 4% margin of error.
Last week, several polls suggest that there is a tight race between the two major candidates in Nevada. However, a September 25 to 27 WeAskAmerica poll shows that Obama vaulted to an 11-point lead over Romney. The poll predicts that Obama will get 53% of the votes, compared to 42% of votes for Romney, with a 3.1% margin of error.
A NBC/WSJ/Marist poll conducted from September 30 to October 1 predicts a 51-43 win for Obama, with a 3.2% margin of error.
Since February, Obama has retained the lead in Virginia in most Real Clear Politics polls. However, that gap between candidates has become progressively smaller since then. Currently, Obama holds a steady two-point lead, according to a recent NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, with a 3.1% margin of error.
The homestate of Romney's running mate has shown increasing favoritism towards Obama since September. According to a September 27 to 30 poll conducted by Marquette University, Obama has an 11 point lead over Romney. The poll predicted that Obama would win 53% of the votes, with a 3.3% margin of error.
6:11 p.m. Under 3 hours to go ...
6 p.m. The specter of James Holmes huants this debate: One of the lesser known plotlines which could factor in on Wednesday is the location of the debate, just 15 miles away from Aurora, Colorado. It was in Aurora that shooter James Holmes opened fire in a movie theater during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July, a tragedy which killed 12 people and injured 58 others.
The focus of Wednesday's debate is domestic policy, and specifically, the economy, health care, and governing in partisan Washington. Gun control is not expected to be a major point of focus for host Jim Leher, though, the veteran journalist could throw in a question about gun violence and gun control, given the debate's proximity to Aurora.
At least that's what 22-year-old Stephen Barton is hoping. Barton was one of the victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting, and appears in a new ad which has been airing in the days leading up to the presidential debate in Denver asking voters to "demand a plan" from Obama and Romney on gun control. He is hoping the ad will revive the conversation about gun violence at the debate. "This past summer in a movie theater in Colorado, I was shot. Shot in the face and neck. But I was lucky. In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won’t be so lucky, because they’ll be murdered with guns in the next president’s term, enough to fill over 200 theaters. So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself, ‘Who has a plan to stop gun violence?"
Watch the video here:
Barton is also asking supporters to sign a petition at DemandAPlan.com, a site dedicated to ending gun violence in America and putting pressure on Obama and Romney to do more on this issue.
But, the format of Wednesday's debate does not lend itself well to a question about gun control. The 90 min. debate will feature three 15-minute segments which deal with the economy, a fourth segment about health care, a fifth on "the role of government," and a final on "governing." Lehrer will allow each candidate to give a two minute response to his question, and then moderate the discussion between the two. With voters' focus on the economy, there will likely be little room for a discussion about gun control.
Still, it's heartening to see this kind of effort from an Aurora survivor, and his video should serve as a continued reminder to both candidates that gun control must become a more important issue that deserves more attention in 2013.
5:35 p.m. In addition to the biggest showdown of the 2012 campaign to date, tonight also marks Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's 20th wedding anniversary. The Obama campaign is asking you to sign their card here.
5:25 p.m. The Candidate Missing From Tonight's Debate – Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson has been shut out of the presidential debate on Wednesday night, a decision which has angered third-party voters and even prompted at least two of the debate's sponsors to pull their support.
Founder and executive director of Open Debates George Farah says Democrats and Republicans have secretly negotiated a detailed contract that dictates many of the terms of the 2012 presidential debates. This includes who gets to participate, as well as the topics raised during the debates. Even though he will not be participating in the debate, Gary Johnson will be providing live, online commentary on Twitter and other new media outlets.
5:15 p.m. OMG! A Deb8! What Young People Want to Ask – (via NPR) Pundit Maggie Cleary, Chairwoman of the Georgetown University Republicans says she would ask these three questions to the candidates if given the opportunity: 1) What are three specific steps you would take in the next four years to reduce the deficit? 2) What is your plan to increase America's power overseas? Continuing to be submissive is not an option. 3) What are reasons a young, unemployed person should vote for you in 2012? Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a nonpartisan think tank focusing on the economics of young Americans, had this to say ahead of tonight's debate: "Unlike previous debates, this series of debates will be watched, shared, commented on and vigorously discussed among young Americans for weeks to come both on social media as well as in person. What all Americans should understand is that young adults know full well what is at stake in the 2012 election both for themselves and their country."
5 p.m. Does Romney even want to win this debate?
Last week a Romney aide said Romney would lose the first presidential debate.
In a memo which was distributed to campaign media surrogates re: Wednesday's first presidential debate against President Obama in Denver, longtime Romney adviser Beth Myers tried to lower expectations for the Romney campaign, detailing a series of reasons why Obama is likely to emerge as the winner of the first debate.
She writes that Obama is "widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history."
She adds, "This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career. For Mitt Romney, it will be his first." Myers concludes that the debates will not, in fact, decide the election: "It will be decided by the American people," she says.
Seems like a bizarre strategy for the Romney camp to down-play debate expectations, but we’ll play along with it.
For Obama, the debate will serve as a new forum for him to solidify his base and maintain his lead in the polls. The president has a comfortable lead in most polls, has been riding on a post-DNC bump, and has benefitted greatly from many of the gaffes committed by Mitt Romney over the last few weeks. He is ahead in all eight major swing states according to almost all media outlets, and, this past weekend, his campaign crossed the $10 million mark in donations, mostly from small grassroots donors. The president will put his oratorical skills to the test against Romney, who has sharpened his own skills with 20+ strong debate showings over the past 12 months during the Republican nomination process. And while many have focused on how the president can solidify his lead over his opponent, he certainly stands to lose a lot if he does not deliver on his message to swing voters, and veer away from the "first-term referendum" which Romney has attempted to create.
The race is still relatively tight. On Monday, the Rasmussen Reports daily presidential tracking poll showed Obama attracting support from 50% of voters nationwide, while Mitt Romney earned the vote from 47%. Two percent prefer some other candidate, and 2% are undecided.
A recent Gallup poll reports that the dead heat between Romney and Obama in the swing states could shift quickly, as 22% of voters in those states say they could still change their minds.
The "winner" of Wednesday's debate could see a big polling jump.
The loser, though, could be left out in the cold October rain.
4:40 p.m. Obama, Polling 3.8 Points Ahead in Real Clear Politics, Can Afford to Relax These Next 5 Weeks. PolicyMic Pundit Liam Crawford reports:
As we in D.C. pile into bars on Wednesday to witness the spectacle that is presidential debating, swing state constituents from Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania will be in the candidate’s crosshairs as both bend over backwards to tailor their message at undecided voters in these critical battleground states.
President Barack Obama has made substantial gains in the past few weeks giving him an edge in important swing states. Former Governor Mitt Romney desperately needs to win at least two, possibly even three, of the states mentioned. Romney finds himself in a less than favorable position leading up to the first debate. Polls have been slipping away from Romney in these critical and highly sought after states where he finds himself, on average, polling well below his very own controversial "47%" figure.
At this point in the campaign, POLITCO has Obama owning 95 electoral votes in these previously highly contested swing states. In comparison, Romney occupies a paltry 15. These polls and projections may have an air of triviality due to the relatively fickle nature of the small, yet important, undecided voter group, but presumptiveness aside, Obama has seen a major bump as of late. Obama currently leads polls in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, and Colorado. Most have ceded that if the election were held tomorrow Obama would have a lock on 237 electoral votes and Romney would have something close to 206. Of course this does not definitively project an Obama victory, but the trend of the campaign remains in the president’s favor. Real Clear Politics has held Obama in a lead averaging 3.8 points over Romney throughout the entire 2012 campaign. Obama has nearly five weeks to run a smooth campaign — he must avoid gaffes both on and off the debate stage, and should focus his attention on single states where he can bolster his numbers and more easily obtain the 370 electoral votes that he has labored for this entire campaign cycle.
This campaign will be fought and won in the coming weeks on two stages. One will be on the debate stage and the other will be in the trenches of the now infamous "swing state." Virginia holds 13 electoral votes and generally votes conservative. Prior to Obama’s victory in 2008 the state had not voted for a Democratic president since 1964 when it voted in favor of Lyndon B. Johnson. Virginia remains somewhat promising for the Romney campaign. Wisconsin does as well, mainly due to Paul Ryan’s popularity and inclusion onto the Romney ticket. Nevada also can swing back in Romney’s favor due to the severe economic problems within the state as well as the state’s general tendency toward libertarian values. These characteristics come into play in Colorado as well. One of Romney’s most difficult demographics, which could severely hurt him come the election, is with Hispanic voters. Hispanics do not favor Romney in any state other than Florida, which has a 40% favorable view of Romney.
These polls do not put a nail in the coffin of Romney’s presidential bid, although they tend to leave the feeling that the hole has been dug. Romney will have to tread carefully in the coming weeks as he is likely to become more desperate and forced to turn to more offensive tactics. Once the candidates have walked the figurative knife’s edge in the upcoming debates it will be much easier to predict the final outcome on Election Day.
4:15 p.m. Debate Party: Former President Bill Clinton will be in Boston on Wednesday night for Obama, with donors paying $20,000 a person. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is headlining a New York fundraiser. The Obama campaign plans more than 4,000 debate-watching events around the country. And Biden is scheduled to hold a live discussion with supporters that will be streamed online after the debate. The Romney camp planned 336 debate parties at restaurants, bars, grills, VFW halls and other sites concentrated in battleground states.
4 p.m. Romney is facing an uphill battle against the polls. This might be the only realistic way Romney can win the 2012 election:
3 p.m. Obama Will Win Tonight: It’s already kind of been decided: Barack Obama will “win” the Wednesday night presidential debate.
“Win,” of course, is in quotes because it’s all qualitative, subjective.
But recent Pew research has released&nb