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The Expectations Trap & The Presidential Debates

The way the Democrats are winning is that they are setting the expectations to be easily exceeded by Obama while being impossible to meet for Romney. And the media is complicit in this. And the polls that have been the subject of much debate contribute to this narrative. First you make the debates be absolutely critical for Romney. You use tilted Poll data to say he is way behind and he needs the best debate performance EVAH to turn the tide. Add the fact that the greatest orator of modern times, Mr. Obama evidently can’t debate a 5th grader according to the president’s people. So you make the hurdle impossible for Romney, simple for Obama. Then after the first debate, you say wow that Obama did MUCH better than anticipated and Romney had a few moments that could really hurt him – is it too late to turn this around? And so we will get another 2 weeks of negatively framed questions for Romney and his surrogates asking him if his campaign is over since he “lost” the debate with Obama (“lost” in the sense of the expectations being properly set to make Obama the victor). This is quite a cynical game and I think Republicans do fall for it somewhat which is frustrating. I think they should have more of a long-view that no one moment is going to make or break the campaign.

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