With the polls indicating that the election is becoming increasingly close, it’s probably time that everyone re-assesses just how important televised Presidential debates are – at least in this election. Proof? Just look at what happened to Obama’s numbers after the first debate two weeks ago – his numbers literally fell off a cliff:
The numbers really are stunning. For Obama to lose such a sizable advantage literally over night means there is a very, very serious problem and he will have to put on the performance of a lifetime to ensure a meaningful reversal. Joe Biden’s performance last week was excellent, but Vice Presidential debates don’t generally make a huge impact on the outcome of elections. Biden gave Obama a bump back in the right direction, but the real decider will come down to the debates between Obama and Romney.
The panic felt after the first debate has subsided a little, but there are creeping doubts that Obama can raise his game enough to thwart Romney’s resurgence. It is widely known that the President is not a fan of the debate format and there is a danger that he will revert to type (professorial, long winded and too polite). This isn’t to say it’s all over for Obama should he not completely dominate Romney tomorrow as some corners of the blogosphere seem to think (Andrew Sullivan is busy preparing himself for the apocalypse). Elections are fought on the ground as well as the airwaves, and Obama has a formidable army of volunteers that will be deployed to drive the vote out. Nevertheless, Obama’s crashing numbers were a sign of just how vital the largely superficial spectacle can be, so understanding its importance should certainly not be underestimated.
The pressure is on, and Obama is surely aware of his need to perform. Historically, he rises to the occasion and finds a way to win. Let’s see if he can revert to type, because his Presidency depends on it.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.