Thursday, October 4, 2012

0 Romney Wins Debate 1 -- Voters, like Honey Badger, Don't Care

The internet, the prevailing source of all human knowledge, seems to have ruled that Mitt Romney dominated President Obama in the debate tonight.  It is being called a "knock-out," a "game changer," a "rebirth."  President Obama certainly failed to deliver his normal charisma and energy and Mitt Romney certainly did steal the President's thunder.  Sadly for Mitt Romney, it seems that the debates don't matter all too much.

By this point in the election cycle, it seems, that voters -- much like the famous honey badger of The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger (original narration by Randall) YouTube sensation -- have made up their minds by this point and the debate is not enough of a stage to convince them to change sides.  If the honey badger decides that he is hungry, that honey badger is going to eat.  If the voter has decided the President isn't bad-enough to remove from office, the voter will stick with the President.  The Daily Beast and The New Republic have both published articles echoing this statistically-backed conclusion.

There may be a small post-debate bounce for Romney's numbers in the polls but these bounces don't tend to last through the final stretch of the campaign and they very, very, rarely affect the outcome of an election.  The idea that Romney convinced the last few -- very few -- undecided voters to commit last night just isn't unlikely.  Obama was outshone, certainly, but he did not say anything to make voters question his capacity or ability to lead.  If anything, all we saw was a Romney energized and ready to debate -- and Romney can debate; that isn't news for anyone who watched the Republican primaries.  The Romney-Obama disparity was not on the level of the Kennedy-Nixon one -- in which JFK oozed charm and Richard Nixon was captured as a sweaty mess on television.  The only other example of the debates affecting the polls in a serious fashion was at the end of the Bush/Gore campaign and that, most likely, can be attributed to the media's relentless coverage and interpretation of Gore's purported sigh during a debate.

If anything, debates tend to provide material for those who are watching to reinforce their previous beliefs.  Campaigning begins so far in advance of this home stretch that most voters have been bombarded with information and are tired of the arguing at this point.  Therefore, gaffes, missteps, sighing, sweating, and other calamities aside, the debates are a chance for Democrats and Republicans to find more reasons to love their respective candidates.

So while this debate is being scored as a "Romney Victory" I can't help but click away and read something more interesting and meaningful in my life (perhaps this).  It's nice to think that the debates made a difference and feeling the post-debate, "My candidate kicked their candidate's ass" high, is a boon, for sure.  However, in objective terms, the debates just don't matter all too much.  Much like the aforementioned honey badger, [voter] don't care.

- Romney Won the Debate, but Will it be Enough? - The New Republic - Nate Cohn
- Presidential Debates Rarely Have Much Effect on Election - The Daily Beast - Miranda Green


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