I wrote the other day that we wouldn’t know who really won the first presidential debate until the next polls of likely voters came out.
That verdict is in, and it seems as if the pundits were right and Romney won by the only criterion that counts: a change in the polls in his favor. New polls have shown Romney pulling even or slightly ahead in the larger swing states and closing the gap nationally. That is, assuming these polls aren’t cooked like many Republicans said former polls and the latest unemployment numbers were. Funny, they’re not questioning the accuracy of these new polls. LOL.
I have a few observations I want to share on Romney’s post-debate surge, working backwards from the end of the decision-making chain to the beginning:
- We don’t know the composition of the people who swung to Romney in the aftermath of the first debate, but I’m going to guess that they were Republicans who were going to stay home or independents leaning towards Mitt in the first place.
- It’s fairly clear that Romney’s performance in the polls swayed the people now responsible for the swing to Romney, since nothing else changed. What is unclear is whether the pundits’ immediate declaration of a Romney victory influenced the perception of who won the debate or the decision to raise hands for the challenger.
- Those who judged Romney the winner did not factor in the fact that Mitt told so many lies in his debate remarks. If telling the truth had been one of the criteria by which the debate were judged, Romney would have been declared the loser by all but the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world.
The most depressing implication of the “win,” then, is that either people are not seeking or retaining information about the views of the candidates AND/OR they just don’t care if a candidate lies or distorts a lot.
Many supporters of Obama I know have been wringing their hands in anxiety and moaning some form of the question, “Why didn’t Obama do better?” The Economist supplied the
answer to this question days before the debate in an editorial cartoon by Kevin Kallaugher: Both candidates are at the debate podium. Romney is juggling three small, perfectly round balls labeled “Massachusetts,” “Bain Capital” and “Olympics.” Obama is juggling nine or ten enormous shapes, each with jagged edges or other potential hazards, and they’re labeled with “Iran,” “Libya,” “Unemployment,” “Deficit” and so forth. Kallaugher hits on the reason that incumbents mostly lose the first presidential debate—they all have had a pretty demanding day job.
Changing the subject: I frequently criticize Parade Magazine, the Sunday newspaper supplement that is probably the most widely read periodical in the United States. Parade is an easy target for anyone opposed to celebrity culture and to those concerned that the news media promotes consumerism and unhealthy habits such a poor nutrition.
Today I come not to bury Parade, but to praise it.
This Sunday’s issue has a long article telling the public the dangers of not vaccinating children against common diseases and debunking every myth of the anti-vaccine movement.
Parade presents the case for vaccination with both facts and a heart-rending case history. Parade’s extensive coverage includes two sidebar articles with lists: one of the 5 leading myths about vaccines, each exploded with easy-to-understand science; the other of the types of vaccines people need at different stages of life.
The anti-vaccine movement is one of the saddest parts of our current retreat from rationality—and one of the most senseless. Global warming can seem far off and abstract, even after a summer of beastly heat. Whether we’re descended from other animals doesn’t matter when you’re paying the rent or saving for your children’s higher education. But the growing number of parents who fail to get their children vaccinated leads directly to epidemics of painful and preventable diseases.
Bravo to Parade for taking on this important health issue.