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Hopefully today is the final day of voice conservation (video to return Monday)
And the winner of the Vice - debate is...
Bottom Line: My initial reaction would be to say anyone who didn’t watch it. My second guess would be History or Discovery (for the record History won in my text poll). I preface all “winner of debate” stories by this disclaimer. The winner of the debate is subjective by nature and in the eyes of the beholder. Rarely are there such clear cut outcomes from debates (as was the case in the 1st Presidential Debate. However we do have data from last night’s debate which is a bit inconclusive.
To begin with – there were many false reports citing unofficial poll numbers last night. For example
Two scientific polls were conducted and here is the result:
CNN: Poll of all viewers – Paul Ryan won 48-44 (with the balance saying there wasn’t a winner)
CBS: Poll of undecided voters – Joe Biden won 50-31 (with the balance saying there wasn’t a winner)
So there you have it. And I’m not really sure what you do with those two results. I’ll offer you my perspective on last night…
Joe Biden was what I expected him to be last night. Aggressive, somewhat undisciplined, and well, Joe. I think he was most successful in coming across as authoritative. I think he was lest effective in his tactics (constant interruptions, sighs, eye rolling and other odd expressions).
Paul Ryan was an unknown in a debate setting going in. That also showed. It appeared clear that his inexperience debating left him on the defensive much of the time last night unnecessarily. He was most effective at coming across as likeable. All told I think his performance was mainly benign making the debate a referendum on Biden’s performance and that’s why I think the results look mixed. If you weren’t turned off by the way Biden conducted himself you likely would view his performance as the stronger of the two. If you were turned off by his conduct you likely don’t care about the rest of his performance.
So the net of this is likely not much to the overall race… On to the next debate…
Romney vs. Obama head to head if the election were held today:
Bottom Line: What a difference a week makes. A week ago today (before we had polling data showing the impact of the 1st debate) President Obama still maintained a lead in the overall race and according to my projection of how undecided voters would impact the final outcome. No longer.
If the election were held today Mitt Romney would win. In an average of all head to head polling data Mitt Romney leads 47.1 to 46.4 over President Obama. 75% of undecided voters break for the challenger to the incumbent historically. Factoring undecided voters (without 3rd party consideration), Mitt Romney would win the national popular vote 52%-48%. That would be enough to pull him through key swing states.
President Obama's re-election odds:
Bottom Line: Last week I predicted that while I expected to see Romney’s debate win to impact the head to head match-up (which it did), there may not be an impact with President Obama’s approval rating. The approval rating is obviously based on the President’s job performance rather than who you think would make a better President for the next four years.
What we see this week is exactly what we saw last week. President Obama’s approval rating is just under 50%. As we’re now under 1 month to Election Day it historically computes to an 80% chance of winning re-election. So you’re likely questioning how on one hand I could be saying that Mitt Romney would win the election if it were held today and yet President Obama has an 80% of winning re-election? I’m glad you asked…
By definition and 80% of winning means that there is a 20% of losing. So what would cause that to occur? Most re-elections are referendums on the incumbent administration. That means if enough people generally approve of the incumbent he’ll win. The caveat is if the challenger is so compelling as to change the dynamic of the election. In other words with an 80% chance of winning it requires people to want to vote for the challenger rather than against the incumbent.
Take 2004. That was an election where President Bush had a 50% approval rating on Election Day. That was enough for just under 52% to decide to stay with him. In that election a vast majority of voters that did support Kerry said their motivation for voting wasn’t for Kerry but against Bush. That’s why he lost.
If President Obama maintains a 50% approval rating and Romney does manage to win it’ll be because Romney actually convinced a majority of voters to vote for him rather then just voting against Obama.