Ramifications of that Awful Debate

On The Page this morning, Mark Halperin (disclosure: he was my boss when I was an intern at ABC News, and I’ve defended him on this site) asks some basic and important “Questions After Denver” following Mitt Romney’s drubbing of President Obama in the debate last night. For shits and giggles (well, more shit, less giggle) I’m going to try and answer them.

Do the media fact checks change the perception of how Romney did?

Not to the folks that matter, the uninformed undecideds, for whom this is all they’re ever going to see other than ads.

Does Romney see bigger crowds, better fundraising, and/or bulked up absentee/early voting support?

Probably not on crowds, because he’s just not that interesting. But you better believe his machinery oils up as a result. He’ll look shinier and more like a winner, and therefore a good investment for money and time.

Can Romney keep up this level and style of performance in other formats?

Yes. Even in something that’s folksier like a townhouse hall debate, Romney can fake sincerity and caring if he wants to. He never fails because he’s unprepared for a format. Romney may not be an Everyman, but Obama isn’t much better, and now we know that he’s capable of blowing a chance to use his likability even when it counts.

Does Chicago take something page-turning out of the oppo research closet and throw it over the transom?

They’d better.

Do any prominent Democrats inside or outside the Obama tent break ranks and say the President messed up?

Only if the polls show things weakening for the president. Until then, expect to see a more O’Malley-esque tack of “he was dignified and presidential.”

How does Denver impact debate prep for Biden and Ryan?

You bet. Biden will already be prepped to kneecap Ryan and Romney with a smile, but they’ll be more deliberate this time, since the stakes for making Joe seem aggressive and unlikable are low. He may be their best messenger, given the preciousness with which the Obama campaign views the president’s likability.

Do Capitol Hill Republicans go back to being bullish on Romney’s chances?


Does the press begin a love affair with Romney?

No, they still hate him, but they will, however, turn on the president anew, which is just as good for Romney.

Most of all: Do the state and national polls move?

Probably, but I would bet not by much given electoral and demographic realities. But “not by much” may be enough for Romney.

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