Am I the only person bewildered to learn that somebody won that debate?

Being irresponsible and lazy, I’m not prepared to read the 12±page debate thread. But I need a sanity check. I watched the debate on Wednesday and I was disappointed by what a non-event it was; both candidates repeated talking points from the debate trail. Every accusation made by Romney was one he’s said a hundred times before; ditto Obama. Each of them dodged or denied the claims of the other with no specific counter-point. The whole thing seemed like an extended, alternating campaign commercial. A couple funny lines (I laughed at Obama saying “Well you’re going to have a busy first day sitting down with Democrats after repealing Obamacare”), but otherwise, total dud.

Then I learn from pundits that Romney was scintillating, animated, and passionate, while Obama was dispirited and bored. Apparently Romney scored all kinds of points (while saying nothing I haven’t heard many times already), while Obama failed to land any punches (um…I think it is irresponsible of Romney to hide his plan, beyond killing PBS…). In retrospect, I suppose Romney was more spastic and Obama was a bit professorial, but who’s surprised by this???

From what I can tell, everyone wanted Obama to say “47%! Tax returns! Cayman Islands!!”. That he didn’t, to my mind, reflects a basic respect for Americans. Yes, I’m an Obama supporter. But I sincerely left the debate thinking ‘ho hum, how boring’ and then…well, apparently I was in the minority.

I think most Americans who watch the debate feel like their guy won, only to shortly be told afterwards by the news media who really ‘won’ based on subtle nuances that they declare to be more important than others.

We are a competitive people, and Romney “won” by speaking very well, appearing to know his stuff, and coming off as a generally amiable person. He was the more compelling debater. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with his views.

I agree with you about repeating talking points to a certain extent, but I thought this debate really got into the issues more than most presidential debates, at the expense of the two minute answer limit.

I think that you had a very common response. The media, however, has to have a “winner” and a “loser”. It’s not so much a political debate as a sporting event. It’s stupid really, but it is what it is.

I keep thinking that it must be “I like Obama, I thought nobody won, so I guess Romney won”. But that doesn’t seem right – it’s not that I think they each scored equal points, I think they were aiming past each other, basically saying nothing of substance or significance. How can there be a winner when there wasn’t a fight?

??? He said absolutely nothing that he hasn’t said before, and he responded not at all to any of Obama’s points (except to say “Not true!”). In what sense was that debating? [For the record, I have the same complaints about Obama].

Both candidates discussed substantive issues in reasonable depth. But their debate opponents might as well have not been in the same room. There was no debate, there was talking.

To me, I thought the President looked exhausted…no doubt from something we will hear about in the coming weeks. He’s usually razor sharp and would have normally threw in zingers about Big Bird and the like; but he was to me in policy wonk mode and not so much dancing bear entertainer. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the number of untruths spewed by the other side. It must have made Obama incredulous as to how to respond.

This is why I’m so bewildered. How can so many people say “Obama looked exhausted, bored, etc.” and I not see it at all? He seemed totally exactly like he always does. No zingers…isn’t that how grownups are supposed to behave when discussing the fate of the free world? Has it really come to this, where no zingers = debate lost?

But theBig Bird comment was a softball just begging for a smartassed remark. Obama should have nailed him for liking Big Bird and wanting to kill him off in the same sentence.

People always say this, but I don’t think its true. There were plenty of strong Obama supporters in the debate thread (myself included) saying Romney won the debate. And most of the polling after the debate came out with people thinking Romney won, despite the fact that Obama is ahead in the polls.

People no doubt are a little more generous to “their guy”, but I don’t really see that most people have trouble being more or less objective in their grading of debate performances.

Ok, perhaps (still seems petty to dwell on it to me). But enough to justify stories like this in otherwise fairly left-leaning publications??

Don’t get me wrong – I see that the Slate story is reporting the results of a survey, so they really are just showing what the majority of its respondents apparently feel. That’s why it’s such a big “Wha???” for me.

Not quite so stupid, since the election also has to have a “winner” and a “loser.”

I’m sure its in the eye of the beholder, but I (and it seems most people) thought Obama was abnormally lackluster. He’s usually weaker in debates then other formats, but this time around, he really seemed to lack energy. And a lot of his responses were rather rambling, even though it was basically the same stuff he’s spent the last four years explaining in speeches and interviews.

I suspect he’s just tired (running for President, and actually being President and raising two daughters no doubt leads to some pretty insane schedules, and being ahead in the polls I imagine it was easy to de-prioritize leaving energy for the debate). But whatever the reason, it was pretty noticeable, and I think accounts for most peoples impression that he lost.

According to Rachel Maddow, incumbents NEVER win the 1st debate.

So I’m really the only person who didn’t see the “lack of energy”? My social ineptitude must be acting up.

My point was that Obama could even hit a slow pitch that night. Game went to Romney. Still didn’t change most peoples vote since most are already decided.

I took it as “I’m not playing that game. Let’s talk about a 5 trillion dollar tax cut, not Big Bird”. Apparently a losing gambit.

But that’s decided by an objective measure, i.e. electoral votes. The various network polls of voters is a step in the direction of objectivity, but IMO public impressions of the debate are so largely shaped by the media reaction immediately afterward that such polls are largely just an echo of conventional wisdom.

Furthermore, I’m not sure we can agree on a criteria to determine “winner” and “loser”, much less apply it fairly. If you graded the debate on who came across as more forceful or in-command, obviously Romney won. If you graded on consistency of opinion and facts, Obama won (what I mean by that is the ability to generate coherent arguments, whether or not you like their conclusions).

The first presidential debate–Kennedy vs. Nixon–is often cited as an event that turned the election, and CW says that debate turned on a seemingly insignificant detail (Nixon’s makeup). That interpretation has set the media paradigm for all future debates, i.e. that they are important in determining an election winner, and they often turn on trivial matters like Gore’s sighing or Bush I checking his watch. I’d argue that neither is true; they simply represent a kind of traditional thinking that very few in the media have an interest in challenging.

I’m fairly certain that if Barack Obama watched a replay of that debate, he’d tell you he wasn’t quite on his game. Romney appeared competent, even if he was spewing out the same rhetoric you’ve heard a million times.