Presidential Debate #2: Testy Exchange, Results In A Draw
By Neil Dhillon, Director, Public Affairs, MSLGROUP Americas
Last night the stakes were high for President Obama, who needed to rebound from a disastrous showing at the first debate, which swung the pendulum in Gov. Romney’s favor. This time around, the two battled for over 90 minutes; a feisty hour and a half that included a testy exchange on Libya, oil prices, immigration, and job creation.
Unlike the previous debate, last night failed to produce a clear winner, putting Obama’s slim 3-point lead (Reuters poll) within the margin of error, and making this race a dead heat.
I expect a new poll in the next 24 hours to show the 10-13% of undecided voters still not leaning toward either candidate.
Once again, Romney’s performance was strong. He took many jabs at Obama’s policies on energy, taxes, job creation, education, pay disparity, immigration, and trade. However, he appeared to stumble on the sensitivities around the tragedy in Libya, and failed to conduct any follow-up comments.
Obama fared much better at this go-around; the town hall format suits his presentation style far better. He was stronger, and threw out several facts on job creation (5.2 million), the impact of “Obamacare,” renewable energy options, and immigration policy.
And though Major League Baseball failed to move the Yankees-Tigers playoff game from its scheduled 8:07 pm start, the public certainly tuned in to see how Obama would overcome the heavy criticism he received after the first debate. This time around, the president stepped up his game and debated brilliantly while showing great emotion on the crisis in Libya.
This emotion may tilt some of the undecided to side with the President.
At this point, both campaigns are canvassing the get-out-the-vote drives in the swing states. Democrats are traditionally better organized, but this year is different because of Romney’s record-breaking campaign funds, and remaining cash-on-hand to help canvass the vote.
Just 21 days remain until the election, and just one final debate focused on foreign policy is scheduled for next Monday, October 22.
The question is, will the final debate definitively move the needle to one side… or will election night linger on for many days to determine a winner?
Neil Dhillon is managing director of MSL Washington DC and leads the firm’s public affairs practice. With over 25 years of experience providing strategic communications and public affairs counsel for a wide variety of clients, as well as serving during the Clinton administration, Neil has represented many Fortune 500 companies and foreign governments.
Read the previous blog posts in this series:
- Presidential Debate No.1 – Crucial for Romney, and He Delivered
- Vice Presidential Debates: Will Anyone Pay Attention?
Originally posted on mslworldwide.com