Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obama vs. Romney 3 - the grades

Our political communications professor, Allan Louden of Wake Forest University, is back with his students to break down and grade the final presidential debate. 

Louden, a national champion debate coach who has worked with politicians such as Elizabeth Dole, graded speeches and debate performances for us in 2008. His analysis was one of our most popular features at the O during the 2008 election, and this year, he's added a student perspective.

First, here's Louden:
It has been several hours since the third presidential debate from Boca Raton, Fla. - another late night, as it was for those watching baseball or the NFL, likely larger audiences. Many sports fans and political junkies may still be sleeping, a state of consciousness not markedly different than watching the debate last night.

observed the debate with 80 Wake Forest University alumni in Washington, a sedate crowd most any time, their response, fitting to the debate, was at best tepid. Following the debate I queried the gathering for an instance of something new learned from the debate“ roundly greeted by blank stares.

I’m not sure if the baseball or NFL football game were dominated by defense, but the presidential debate sure was, the campaigns in “replay” mode, opting for the safe ground of voter reinforcement not conversion.

There was one exchange in the debate that did rile the assembled. President Obama in an exchange on defense spending lectured Romney: you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
The exchange may puzzle fact checkers as we still do have bayonets (and a few horses) in the army, but it also serves as a container for the debate. Romney branded the president with softness, and Obama lectured his opponent of how the world looked from the presidential pedestal.

Obama was overall presidential, helping his case, but scolding Romney that submarines exist had unflattering, mocking quality.

Voters were not the winner in this debate. The first two presidential debates had moments of insight with occasional new ground uncovered. This debate was more a compilation of greatest hits from TV spots, stump speeches, and practiced town halls.

Third debates seldom have staying power. The exchange from Lynn College in Florida will prove the rule. The news tomorrow, barring an international incident, will be who has the buses loaded on the way to early voting (or who has the bases loaded in the World Series).

Grades: Obama C+, Romney C+


April Walsh: I felt President Obama was stronger than he appeared in the past two debates. Even so, he spent a great deal of the debate on the defensive. Romney reined back his aggressive style. This debate was less theatrical than the past two. Based on the change in tone the viewer would assume that the candidates would talk more about the direct issues at hand. However, both Obama and Romney managed to cater the questions to their own agendas. The foreign policy debate quickly became about domestic issues.

Sam Swank: I agreed with April to the extent that Romney was less hostile this time around whereas Obama increased his aggressive demeanor. Obama gave Romney many opportunities to verbally brawl but Romney maintained his defensive stance.  I felt like Romney could do this because he had proven he could be the aggressor and show flare. Tactfully, Romney came out on top.

The power of social media and its influence on the youth of America is eye opening. Throughout the debates, more and more college students were tweeting their thoughts about each candidate. The top trending term on Twitter the morning after is #debate. Students were tweeting about everything from the candidates’ facial expressions, word choice and policy basics. 

The consensus seemed to be that viewers were disappointed that this debate wasn’t as entertaining as the past two. Facebook statuses were also extremely popular. My generation has chosen to share its political views in very personal settings. Most of the statuses were humorous but also endorsed a particular candidate. The power of this is that students are looking at what their friends are posting on Facebook or Twitter and being influenced by their opinions. Students who aren’t actively watching the debate or learning about each candidate’s platform are now making their decisions based on what funny hand gesture Romney made or a tweet that emphasizes “#NObama.”

Delon Lowe: I felt like President Obama, having firsthand experience in dealing with foreign exchanges came off more aggressive. Romney, however still managed to come off as Presidential with his dialed back demeanor. The two candidates pretty much stalemated each other with these debates. Both candidates pretty much rallied their bases for a bit and worried their base. 

Grades: Obama B, Romney B.



Garth Vader said...

This was NOT 'the final debate'. The final debate is TONIGHT on C-SPAN with Larry King moderating. Featured candidates include Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Johnson is running a national campaign and offers a true alternative to the Obamney monstrosity.

Ettolrahc said...

The Observer's editorial board cares deeply about Charlotte and the Carolinas, and has a problem with public officials who have forgotten that they report to citizens

So Observer why then are your Editorial People not just as upset with the fact you do not represent the Conservative side of the Charlotte Population?

Anonymous said...

There is so little to analyze from the debate that I'm going to hijack the comments and change the subject - to the CO's endorsement of Obama.

The CO endorsing Obama is about as surprising as being told that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning and that the Panthers are struggling. This paper moves further left seemingly every day, despite the efforts of reasonable people like Peter St. Onge. So no big deal in the endorsement. But part of the reasoning I do want to debate.

Once again, the CO perfectly parrotted the Democrat Party talking point that Romney has not given specifics on how he is going to pay for the 20% across the board tax cut he proposes. Once again, as I have done dozens of times in CO blog comment sections, I will explain this simple logic that has escaped those of a liberal ideology.

To adopt the line of reasoning that every dollar lost in a tax cut must be paid back in some other part of the tax code, you must assume that taxes and wealth are a zero-sum game, that the amount of wealth in existence is finite, and thus by extension, the amount of tax revenue available to the government is finite. You have to assume that there is a certain amount of wealth in existence, a set amount that cannot be increased or decreased. Every dollar I earn is a dollar taken away from someone else. If you accept this line of reasoning, you then accept that since the amount of wealth is finite, and thus tax revenue is finite, and you believe that every tax dollar someone doesn't pay has to be paid by someone else.

This, however, is not how the world works. There is no limit to the amount of wealth the people of the world can make. If the amount of wealth can be increased, so can tax revenue. So how do you increase wealth? You reduce the rate at which the people are taxed. Let's say I own a small business and report my business income on my personal tax return, and my income is about $240,000. If my business grew to the point that my income was $400,000, the workload would probably be too much and I would need to hire someone. But if my tax rate skyrockets once my income exceeds $250,000, I'm going to stop trying to grow my business and try to continue doing just enough business to keep my income around $240,000 so I don't get hit by the punishment of higher tax rates. But if you say, not only will your tax rate not increase at $250k, but your tax rate on all your income is going to be lowered, then I'm free to keep growing my business. Perhaps I double my business and have to hire someone to help, maybe 2 people. Now the government gets tax revenue from me, as well as tax revenue from my new employees. So that is how LOWER TAX RATES FOR EVERYONE INCREASES TAX REVENUE.

Who said this? "The best way to raise revenue in the long run is to lower tax rates now." That was John F. Kennedy, on December 14, 1962. If a dedicated liberal like JFK can figure out that lowering tax rates leads to more tax revenue, why can't liberals in 2012 figure it out?

One other question, then I'll shut up. The President says the economy won't recover by giving rich people and corporations any tax breaks, and that the economy must be built from "the middle out." In other words, he thinks higher taxes on rich people will lead to more people getting jobs. So the question becomes: When was the last time a poor person gave you a job?

Ettolrahc said...

J, One of the best ways to explain that soaking rich will not work is this video of just what we could do if we took every thing, and I mean everything from individuals and businesses, converted it to cash and then would find we could not operate the government for a year. It is a spending problem folks, a spending problem.


Garth Vader said...


Agreed that it's a spending problem. So why doesn't Romney's plan cut any spending at all until FY2017? When all we need to do to balance the budget under existing revenues is to roll back spending to FY2006 levels as Gary Johnson is advocating. I don't recall any conservative during GWB's second term saying that the govt was spending too little.

Voting for Romney = voting for bigger government, more deficits, more debt, more wars, more invasions of privacy, more bailouts, more QE, more inflation. NO CHANGE from Obama. NONE.

Anonymous said...

Garth Vader said, "I don't recall any conservative during GWB's second term saying that the govt was spending too little."

If that's the case, you weren't really around any true conservatives. The rise of the Tea Party is about the fiscal irresponsibility of both Bush and Obama (the merits of the Tea Party is another debate entirely, but they were just as disgusted with Bush's spending as they are with Obama's).

Gary Johnson has plenty of good ideas, but I can't throw away my vote on him. If the Libertarians are serious about changing the game, they need to get a candidate out front as soon as this election is over and work harder to get their message out. They can't wait until 18 months before a national election like Dems and Repubs can.

I was disgusted with both parties in '92 and gave Perrot my protest vote. The stakes are too high for a protest vote this time.

Ettolrahc said...

Free President Bush

For the last thee plus years he has been held by Obama and The Democrats. He has served his time and now he needs to be released.


Garth Vader said...


You misread my post entirely. I know the Tea Party started under Bush, with Ron Paul's moneybomb in December 2007.

The Libertarians "haven't gotten their message out" because of a blackout by the liberal media that faux conservatives' bumper stickers claim they don't believe. Why do you let the liberal media pick your candidates for you? If Americans voted their conscience, Johnson would win easily.

One Discerner said...

Editorial Board, please allow me to help you get to a decision. A tie is not a decision.

Debates have value, but are devalued when one debater changes prior positions quicker than a chameleon can change its appearance. This was Romney during the debates. For his efforts, his reward should be a scarlet letter L.

Barack Obama deserves a second term as President because he did an outstanding job in stabilizing this country when it was on the blink of collapse due to mismanagement by Republicans.

He made progress despite GOP obstruction motivated supposedly by an obsessive desire for them to regain the White House in 2012.

Well as fair-minded Americans we cannot support bad behavior by Republicans during the last four years at the expense of working class Americans. That which is rewarded, gets repeated.

Therefore after reviewing the record, our resounding opinion is that President Obama should be reelected!

Calvin Brock said...

I was able to spend a short time looking at some of the information from Governor Romney's 2010 tax return, along with some tentative and preliminary 2011 items. As I will be colloquiumizing, so to speak, while this story is bright and fresh today, I am writing up my main preliminary reactions in advance and will post them when the story has gone public. Matawan income Tax Preparation