Good news for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: despite President Barack Obama’s somnambulant performance at the first presidential debate, the American public still expects him to win the second debate. According to the latest Pew Research Center poll, 41 percent of Americans think Obama will do better, compared with 37 percent for Romney. That is a large shift in Romney’s direction – before the first debate, Pew found that people expected Obama to win, 51 percent to 29 percent. Independents think Romney will do better than Obama; Democrats seem far less sure that Obama will beat Romney.
The expectations game is key prior to this second debate. If the American public expected Romney to win, he’d have no room for growth after this debate. But while independents think Obama will lose, they only think he’ll lose by a 41-32 margin. That means that there’s significant upside for Romney here. For Obama, by contrast, the expectations remain high – he’ll have to show strong to win this debate.
The pressure’s therefore on the incumbent. Thanks to Joe Biden’s unhinged performance in the vice presidential debate – and thanks to the left’s unhinged response, cheering wildly for a man on the verge of an emotional breakdown – President Obama will likely come out swinging tomorrow night.
That’s not going to work well for him. The last few presidential debates have been won by the candidate who appeared more presidential – not passive, but presidential. The candidate on the strident attack has always seemed petty and vindictive (see Carter, Jimmy). And President Obama will have to go on the attack, since he has no record on which to run.
If Americans expect Obama to win, he’ll have to win big to justify those expectations. And with the American people losing big under his administration and no teleprompter in sight, that’s a tall order.