There was a surreal moment after the debate last night. On CNN, the polling went overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney among debate watchers. Basically two-thirds of the American public who watched the debate claimed Romney won. A majority claimed Romney was with them on taxes, the economy, healthcare, their views of government, etc. He dominated.
A CBS poll of undecided voters who watched the debate mirrored the CNN poll.
Suddenly the Democrats took to the airwaves and twitter to rail against the polls oversampling Republicans and being too heavily skewed, too instant to be meaningful, and clearly not an accurate statistical sample of anything.
About the same time Barack Obama's campaign team was melting down on television, the campaign sent out an email that did not even mention the Presidential debate. It just wanted more money.
The debate was so bad for Barack Obama I expect Eric Holder to send Jim Lehrer to GTMO. Barack Obama suddenly agrees with Republicans on defunding PBS. Without his precious TelePrompTer to feed his Gollumesque addiction to its illuminated, precious words, the President fell flat. Instead of John Kerry for a debate partner, the President should have just gone through airport security a few times or embraced BOHICA as a debate preparation strategy.
Put it to you this way, within ten minutes of the debate ending, Jessica Yellin of CNN spoke with Stephanie Cutter of the Obama campaign. Ms. Cutter conceded up front that Mitt Romney won on both debate preparation and debate style. It went downhill from there. She began parroting talking points about the debate she herself released to Obama surrogate at sun up yesterday morning. She had nothing new to add.
Mitt Romney had substance, counterarguments for Barack Obama's points, rebuttals, and a friendly manner. Barack Obama kept his head down at the podium and refused to make eye contact with Mitt Romney. This too is what Barack Obama did with the economy and Libya.
Barack Obama, at one point, interrupted Jim Lehrer and asked Lehrer to move on to a new topic. It was a brilliant metaphor for what Barack Obama did coming into office. He looked at the economy and decided to move on to Obamacare. His whole career has been one of passing the buck, shifting blame, and failing to take responsibility for tough challenges. He did the same last night.
For four years, Barack Obama has rarely been challenged and he handled it poorly last night. He was ill prepared, flustered easily, and came off as petulant. At some point we should expect the empty chair to ask Barack Obama to take a vacation day and let it debate instead.
I think the explanation for Obama's performance is pretty simple. Gods in the cult of personality do not like to come off Olympus to be challenged by mere mortals.
There is an important point, however, for Republicans. This was one debate. This was not the election. Mitt Romney showed he can do it. But the campaign needs your help now more than ever. Every penny helps. I guarantee you we are about to see the media resurrect the "Obama is the underdog" theme and, in the meantime, look for most media polls to suddenly have a D+20 sample.
Mitt Romney did fantastic last night.