Undecided Voters: Round One Goes to Romney




Romney Says Obama Is Crushing Middle Income Families


















Now, we don't agree on much, but reality is reality. Gov. Romney won the debate.

No way to deny it, spin it, or paint a different picture. It was the moment the Romney campaign was looking for -- a decisive victory that could change the narrative -- and he got it.

One knew from the opening answer that Gov. Romney had come loaded for bear. From that very first answer on, he was passionate and forceful. He recited a blizzard of facts and offered well-structured answers. He was empathetic and respectful to the president. And, he pushed a coherent and focused message. In fact, for these 90 minutes, he was the opposite of the campaign and the candidate the American people have seen.

Yes, he was quite good.

President Obama, on the other hand, was passive bordering on disinterest. He seemed displeased at times, and even worse, he showed it. He had no message and he meandered. He ignored facts and specifics he could have used to attack Gov. Romney. He didn't have an effective frame or any message. Interestingly, one of President Obama's best answers came when he defended his health care plan, but he still did not undermine Gov. Romney in this exchange. How is that possible? On health care?

Worst of all, he let Gov. Romney control the debate from beginning to end. Folks, it's Debate 101 that you never -- ever -- let your opponent control the debate. At a minimum, the president needed to be as aggressive as Gov. Romney. But he wasn't.

Putting aside our observations, based on an AOL-sponsored debate night focus group of 25 undecided voters, the results were clear. Romney won. President Obama lost.

When asked whether they felt that Romney improved his image, the answer was a resounding yes. When asked whether they felt this would energize his campaign, the answer was yes. While the president did show signs of improvement in the second half of the debate among our group, it just wasn't nearly enough.

So what did we learn from tonight's debate and what does it mean for the remaining two presidential debates?

1. Be On-Message: Watch the debate again. Count how many times Romney said the word "jobs" versus President Obama. Does anyone want to make a $10,000 bet how many more times Gov. Romney said jobs? It is inexplicable that the president ceded this word and issue to Gov. Romney. This election is about jobs and the economy, yet the president rarely talked about jobs. Gov. Romney kept talking about jobs and the economy, even when he was asked about something else. In doing so, Romney won the message war.

2. Expectations Matter: Much as George W. Bush won the debates in 2000 because voters expected so little, Mitt Romney "won" last night because he so exceeded expectations. Let's be honest, most folks expected Gov. Romney wouldn't do well tonight. In fact, if you were watching his campaign you would have expected -- predicted -- some disastrous gaffe or mistake. The expectations were low, and that kind of expectations game creates a dangerous dynamic. Voters come in thinking they're going to witness some caricature of a candidate they've seen and heard. But when they see and hear something different, the reaction and effect is even greater than the debate performance may even warrant.

3. Passion Matters -- a Lot!: Gov. Romney sounded and looked passionate, the president did not (except on health care). Gov. Romney spoke like he truly believed in what he was saying, while President Obama's tone missed the mark. He seemed unwilling to sell to the American people on his vision and policies in the passionate ways we have heard in the past. The word we heard most to describe Obama: "flat" -- and this is at a time when Americans want their president to rise to the challenge and inspire us to greatness again.

4. Stats Matter: Here's a little debate trick to remember: If you want to sound substantive, use statistics to reinforce nearly every response and attack. It's the "facts" voters say they crave. Romney did just that. He was a human statistics machine. He used them to not only reinforce his answers but to undermine the president's. Were these statistics all true? Who knows? But the president did nothing to undermine Gov. Romney's statistics and arguments. As a result, Romney's answers sounded more informed, more convincing, and more credible.

5. Be Aggressive: Aggressiveness is more appealing than defensiveness, and the president displayed no willingness to engage. He did not press. He did not counterpunch. He did not mention the 47% video or a litany of attacks his campaign has used to define Gov. Romney. Why? It's almost inexplicable. President Obama simply failed to take the fight to Gov. Romney, even as his own campaign takes the fight to Romney very day. There were clearly moments -- many of them -- where he could have forcefully engaged Gov. Romney. Instead, President Obama chose a more cerebral and filibustering approach, which does not work when you face a determined opponent.

So where do we go from here? Will this change the course of the election?

We'll see, but one thing is clear. The next presidential debate just became as important to President Obama as it is to Gov. Romney.

Let the battle continue.

Chris Kofinis is a Democratic strategist. Frank Luntz is a Republican pollster and strategist. AOL has an elections content partnership with Chris Kofinis and Luntz Global.

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pietje8

So, what will YOU do with all the time you'll have when you are laid off due to company layoffs....because Mitt saw to it to allow your employer to send YOUR job overseas?

You should locate your unemployment office now, and reserve your spot before the UE benefits are gone.

Good luck getting a blood transfusion, surgery, or an organ transplant with your VOUCHER.

October 22 2012 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
parishgl

President Obama new that the Moderator had the transcript in her hand about his remark on the Benghazi attack. Because when Mr. Romney was questioning him about his next day remark, the President said, "please proceed". Then when Mr. Romney was through talking, the President said, "get the transcript". When the Modertor refered to the transcript, the President said, "say that a little louder Candy". This is clearly a violation between the President and the Moderator, Mrs. Candy Crowley. To me its a Trap and a Spin. Because what the President said in the transcript about the terror attack, didn't relate at all to the Benghazi terror attack. Two weeks later, the President was calling it a mop riot due to a video.

October 22 2012 at 2:51 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to parishgl's comment
pietje8

Nope you got it wrong. Obama said it, but he wasn't referring to a transcript in hand. NOBODY knew the questions ahead of time..,..no matter how to try to manipulate it, it didn't happen that way.

October 22 2012 at 7:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thundarbp

mit has always lied it started at or before bain.he learned how to look you in the eye
lie about all he was saying smile and contiue to tell you what he thinks you want to hear.but will continue to play ring around the truth

October 10 2012 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iwlyfevercm

Yes, He absolutely did seem to win....but is it winning when you lie your way through a debate? Or, is it just cheap and crooked? Well, he thinks that he has paid a fair amount of taxes over the years while hiding his money all over the world just to pay less. Us poor suckers don't have that luxury so we end up paying more than Romney. No I don't think he is a winner I think he a pathetic LIAR. Just a note MR. Flip Flopper of all time has once again changed his mind about abortion. God when does he stop LYING???

October 10 2012 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iwlyfevercm

Yes, He absolutely did seem to win....but is it winning when you lie your way through a debate? Or, is it just cheap and crooked? Well, he thinks that he has paid a fair amount of taxes over the years while hiding his money all over the world just to pay less. Us poor suckers don't have that luxury so we end up paying more than Romney. No I don't think he is a winner I think he a pathetic LIAR.

October 10 2012 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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October 10 2012 at 5:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dtremb1000

Obama got what he deserved a slap in the face

October 09 2012 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rbeidson

So romney won because he looked better? America, you are clueless and hollow. tit lied, it's easy for a theif to smile when they taking money from your pocket. Body language - strong influence on an air head.

October 09 2012 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to rbeidson's comment
AB

Well it appears that the Prez may be in trouble. If people think Mitt said something substantive during the debate, then that says they are LOW INFORMATION VOTERS and don't have a clue about what's been happening over the last 2 years or so.

If Mitt's theatrics was enough to cause them to believe that Mitt will represent their interest, then I have a bridge on planet Noir to sale them. GET THE FACTS, NOT THE SHOW!!!

October 09 2012 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pietje8

EXACTLY!!!! People will vote based on who's more handsome. I've already heard people say so. It's sickening.

October 22 2012 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jpsnyder46

I can understand Obama's unwillingness to talk about jobs and the economy. His policies have postponed any real economic recovery or job growth, while causing large numbers of people to exit the workforce. Federal revenues are down significantly and spending is up by nearly 33%. The public debt has nearly doubled during 4 years of Trillion $ plus deficits.
His advertisements calling Romney a liar are ludicrous. Corporations are paying about 1/3 the amount of taxes they were in 2007 because their profits are down by that amount. Individuals are paying less in taxes because their incomes are down. We have yet to start a recovery.

October 07 2012 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jpsnyder46's comment
AB

My best gues is this: the President expected an opponent who was going to stand on what he has said in the past and bolster his position with sound facts and reasoining behind his positions. The President did not expect an opponent who intended to tell bold-faced lies to the American people, he didn't expect a candidate who would be talking out of both sides of his head.

When the President said Romney's budget plan would increase the deficit by 5 trillion dollars by giving tax cuts to those at the very top and adding to military spending when its not needed or wanted, Romney simply denied it and then went right back and said that's exactly what he would do.

Romney said, I will cut taxes by 20% for all Americans. Well that means he's will give the richest people the biggest tax cuts and he didn't say what deductions he would get rid of to pay for it. Anybody with to granins of rice in their heads know that means he will cut the homeowners tax credits, the education tax credit, the child tax credit and any other credits middle-class families need and use.

So the LOW INFORMATION VOTERS out there who thinks Mitt won the debate and deserve your vote, don't cry foul when you loose your job and you can't pay for your kids education and you're paying more in taxes so the rich can continue to take their vacations in Baja California and the French Riviera. Don't cry when its to late for you to do something about it.

October 09 2012 at 11:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Alison

I am horrified that using the Gish Gallop debate technique is garnering him a "WIN"!

"The factual and logical content of the Gish Gallop is pure bullshit and anybody knowledgeable and informed on the subject would recognize it as such almost instantly. That is, the Gish Gallop is designed to appeal to and deceive precisely those sorts of people who are most in need of honest factual education."

One more time Romney has insulted the intelligence of a large portion of the population and is getting accolades for it.

October 07 2012 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply