Wilmer J. Leon III
– President Obama and Governor Romney squared off last night in Boca Raton, FL for the last of their three debates. This was a bad night for a good debate. While President Obama discussed the tragedy in Benghazi, his administrations agreement to discuss nuclear proliferation with Iran, and how Romney has no clue about foreign policy as demonstrated by his “Insult the World Tour”; a lot of the potential voters that the President needed to reach were watching the Chicago Bears defeat the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football and/or the Giants defeat the Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS.
President Obama was the clear winner of this final debate. On a human level it was difficult to watch former Governor Romney slowly drown amidst the rising tide of President Obama’s command of foreign policy and world events. Once again Romney was unable to provide any real specifics about his proposed cuts to the defense budget. Instead of providing a coherent answer when asked about his proposed defense cuts, Romney directed Bob Schieffer (and the rest of the viewers) to his web site. Many expected Romney to score big on the Obama administrations inability to convey a clear understanding of the recent events in Benghazi. It was the first question asked by Bob Schieffer and as in their second debate Romney was unable to use this issue to turn the tide.
The President had the best line of the evening. He carried the night with his reply to Mitt Romney’s complaint that the US Navy will soon possess its smallest fleet since 1916. Obama explained, “We also have fewer horses and bayonets…We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them…We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.” By the end of the debate Governor Romney’s dingy had capsized in the wake of President Obama’s ship of state.
With all of this being said, President Obama’s third debate victory was pyrrhic at best. By allowing the Romney campaign to regain its momentum and “re-start” after the first debate, this third victory came at too great a cost. For as important as this final debate was for President Obama, he never should have allowed the race to get to this point.
According to Real Clear Politics the national poll shows this race as a statistical dead heat, 47% to 47%. With the Electoral College factored into this it is not as much a national election as it is 50 separate State elections plus protectorates and Washington, DC. According to Real Clear Politics on the day of the first debate President Obama led Romney in the national poll 49% to 46%. In most of the battleground states President Obama led Romney as well. In Florida Obama was up 48% to 46%, in Pennsylvania Obama was up 50% to 42%, in North Carolina the race was tied 48% to 48%, and in Virginia Obama was up 48% to 44%. More important, in most of these states President Obama was trending upward. Today, President Obama is tied with Romney in Virginia, down by 1.8 points in Florida, only up by 1.9 points in Ohio, and down by almost 6 points in North Carolina.
In these final two weeks this all comes down to how many voters were the respective campaigns able to encourage to vote early. More importantly it comes down to the ground game in a few key states. How well organized are the respective campaigns in Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, and a few others? What’s the weather forecast for November 6 in the swing states and can the campaigns get their people to the polls?
President Obama won the last two debates but those victories may be pyrrhic at best. Did he win the battle but lose the war? On November 7 Obama supporters may look back at the first debate between Obama and Romney lamenting what should have been.
© 2012 InfoWave Communications, LLC Dr. Wilmer Leon is a political scientist at Howard University and host of the nationally broadcast call in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon” on Sirius/XM channel 128. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or Dr. Leon’s Prescription @ Facebook.com or www.twitter.com/drwleon