How huge was Mitt Romney’s victory over President Obama last night? Historically huge. According to a CNN poll, 67% of debate watchers questioned said Romney won the debate. “No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
And its not just the top line numbers that Obama should be worried about. On the economy, debate watchers said Romney was better by a 55 percent to 43 percent margin. On taxes, Romney had a 53 percent to 44 percent edge over Obama. On health care, Romney won 52 percent to 47 percent. And on the deficit, Romney won 57 percent to 41 percent. More importantly, 35 percent of respondents said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18 percent said they were more likely to vote for Obama.
CNN wasn’t the only news organization with a poll showing Romney dominated Obama on every level. According to a CBS poll of 500 debate watchers, 46 percent of voters said Romney won compared to just 22 percent for Obama. That’s a 2 to 1 margin. And again, Romney won on almost every issue. He won on the economy (60 to 39 percent), on the deficit (68 to 31 percent), and on taxes (52 to 47 percent). CBS adds: “Perhaps most promising for Romney, whose upper-class income has helped stifle his ability to relate to the ‘average American,’ the percentage of those polled who said they felt the former Massachusetts governor cares about their needs and problems spiked from 30 percent pre-debate to 63 percent post-debate.”
That last point may be the most valuable win for Romney last night. So far in this campaign, Obama has successfully used 30-second television ads to define Romney as an uncaring robot at best, and a murderous, job-killing vampire at worst. Last night, Romney completely exploded that image. He was warm, personable, and relatable, while also successfully making his case against Obama’s failed four years as president.
Next week, Joe Biden will face Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate. The following week, Obama will have to answer for the death of four Americans in Libya in the foreign policy debate. October is shaping up to be a devastating month for Obama.
From The Washington Examiner
Michael Barone: “Did Mitt Romney win the first presidential debate between him and Barack Obama? Did Sitting Bull win at Little Big Horn? … Obama suffered tonight from his lack of scrutiny from mainstream media.”
Byron York: “It’s probably safe to say that those few surrogates who ventured into the spin room with blue Obama signs were the only, or nearly the only, people in Magness Arena claiming the president won. … On jobs, on taxes, on energy, on regulation, on education, on pretty much everything, [Romney] got the better of Obama.”
Phil Klein: “The best part of his debate performance was how specific he got. For instance, when criticizing Obama’s financial regulatory reform, he didn’t merely give a generic Republican attack on “regulation” – he explained the unintended consequences of creating too big to fail banks and how it hurts smaller community banks. … In contrast to Romney, Obama came out extremely weak. He struggled to find words at times and wasn’t always coherent.”
William Kristol: Best debate performance by a GOP presidential candidate in more than two decades.”
James Pethokoukis: “Obama likes to think he knows the conservative side of the issues as well as they do. Romney (and Ryan before) showed he doesn’t.”
Jonah Goldberg: “Tonight Romney brilliantly dismantled the straw man Obama has been running against for months. I think it was David Freddoso who said on Twitter that if all you knew about Romney was what you saw in Obama’s TV ads, you’d get the sense that Obama’s been lying to you all this time. Romney helped himself tonight — possibly a lot.”
Rich Lowry: “It’s hard to imagine a better point-by-point performance. He also cheered and energized conservatives, while tacking to the center at times. He gave an answer near the end on the role of government that sounded like Paul Ryan or Newt Gingrich on the Declaration, at the same time he talked about helping people who can’t help themselves.”
Mark Hemingway: “That wasn’t a debate so much as Mitt Romney just took Obama for a cross country drive strapped to the roof of his car.”
Chris Matthews: “Tonight wasn’t an MSNBC debate tonight, was it? … I don’t know what [Obama] was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. Romney, on the other hand, came in with a campaign. … What was Romney doing? He was winning.”
Andrew Sullivan: “How is Obama’s closing statement so f**king sad, confused and lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight.”
Josh Marshall: “The Obama team isn’t going to try to get into a fight about whether their guy was on his game. There’s no point. … What I fully expect, what they’ll do if they’re smart is go full court press on Romney’s numbers and press for details about his budget plan.”
Steve Benen: “If viewers thought Obama was phoning it in, that will matter, and it will matter a lot more if they are being told by every talking head in Christendom that Romney won big.”
Greg Sargent: “Obama won some understated victories. He won the battle over Medicare … Obama did a decent job in exposing Romney’s lack of specificity on many of the issues that were discussed tonight, and tied them together into a larger pattern of evasiveness on Romney’s part. … Obama marginally won the argument over the deficit and taxes.”
In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, Burdened by Old Mortgages, Banks Are Slow to Lend Now: A battle over who gets stuck with tens of billions worth of bad housing loans made during the boom years explains why many Americans still can’t get a mortgage as interest rates hit a new low.
The New York Times, Turkey Strikes Back After Syrian Shelling Kills 5 Civilians: Turkey said Wednesday that it shelled targets within Syria as retaliation for a mortar that landed across the Turkish border and killed five civilians, a move that increases the risk of escalating the bloody civil war into a regional conflict and ratchets up pressure for further international involvement.
The Washington Post, Sensitive documents left behind at U.S. diplomatic post in Libya: More than three weeks after attacks in this city killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, sensitive documents remained only loosely secured in the wreckage of the U.S. mission on Wednesday, offering visitors easy access to delicate information about American operations in Libya.