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Obama Won the Debate but Is Losing the Argument


Aug 13, 2012
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After the debate, CNN found that Mr. Romney came out ahead on the essential question of who was better for handling "the economy" with 58% to Mr. Obama's 40%. This was an improvement from Denver, when the Romney advantage was 55%-43%. So Mr. Obama continues to run behind on the all-important argument over who offers the better prospect of a stronger economy, greater prosperity and serious deficit reduction.

This goes to the essential flaw in Team Obama's strategy. The president and his advisers have been so intent on disqualifying Mr. Romney that they have done a miserable job defending the president's record and virtually nothing to frame a second-term agenda. Meanwhile, according to Pew Research Center polls conducted in mid-September and early October, the president's favorability ratings among all voters have declined to 49% from 55%.
Gallup reported on Sept. 9 that only 30% of the public is "satisfied" with the condition of the country. The Oct. 13 Washington Post/ABC poll found that 56% think the country is "off on the wrong track." The rates of unemployment, second-quarter GDP growth and labor-force participation are all worse than they were three weeks before any modern presidential re-election. Mr. Obama's status-quo, stay-the-course campaign will be a hard sell with a public that wants change.

That's reflected in polling data. Mr. Obama led 49.1% to 45% in an average of national polls conducted about one week before the candidates' first debate. In national surveys taken since then, Mr. Romney averages 47.4% to Mr. Obama's 46.9%. The Republican candidate continues to lead among independent voters. In eight recent national polls, an average 49% of the likely independent voters say they support Mr. Romney, while 37% favor Mr. Obama.

The Denver debate changed the campaign in a way no other presidential debate ever has. What happened two nights ago at Hofstra University was entertaining and at times illuminating, but Mr. Obama needed a knockout. What he got instead was something closer to a draw.

Rove: Obama Won the Debate but Is Losing the Argument - WSJ.com

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