Saturday, November 10, 2012

Axelrod: Becker Was Right About That First Debate

It is not a direct quote. But the point is the same. I argued that the first debate closed the gap on polling not because Obama "bombed" but, rather, because there was upside for Romney. Once he appeared credible, some voters pre-disposed to vote against Obama came home to Romney. Axelrod also agrees that the size of the debate bump was smaller than the media made it out to be.
POLITICO: How much did Debate 1 worry you?

AXELROD: “It was uncomfortable because there was a panic. There are certain things that are predictable in this business: The wheel turns. I always worried about that first debate, because the history of presidents in those first debates is it is like a very, very treacherous pass, and the odds that you're going to have a little bit of a problem are very high, and we did. ... I remember in 1984, when Walter Mondale had a good first debate against Ronald Reagan and people were doubting Reagan: ‘Has he lost it?’ ‘Is it over?’ He dropped like 10 points. He had a huge lead, and the lead closed. So I kind of knew we were in for an uncomfortable period there. But in our data what happened was we went -- that 7-point lead went to like 3 or 4 points, and it was almost entirely because Romney gained. Romney got all that Republican-leaning independent vote back, and obviously it increased enthusiasm among his people.

“Even if we had performed better in that first debate, all the upside was for Romney, because this was the first time that the American people really got a chance to -- 70 million people saw him, and just be performing well, he was going to gain. And, obviously, we helped. But what was interesting about the polling after the debate was we did not lose vote, we did not lose favorability, we did not lose approval. If anything, it ticked up a little. It's just that he made big gains and his numbers which had been under water, almost for months, became more positive.”
Translation: Romney had to appear credible to gain some ground and he did that. There was not much the President could do about that. But the good news is that it also didn't close the gap the way Andrew Sullivan and others worried it did.

No comments: