My View From The Country

Thoughts On Wednesday’s Presidential Debate

The one main advantage that Mitt Romney has is what both diehard conservatives and liberals have always considered to be his fatal flaw – he’s pragmatic.

 More than 50 million people tuned in to the first presidential debate on Wednesday night. While the pundits and polls taken immediately afterwards indicated that Mitt Romney scored a major victory, few seem to feel it’s a game-changer at this point.

According to the polls, Barack Obama currently holds the lead as we move into the last month of the campaign. And though his performance in the Wednesday debate was widely seen as lackluster, I doubt that his true supporters are going to bolt because of that singular performance.

Industry Resource Page: Election 2012

However, the overall narrative that will be formed through the series of upcoming debates – two more presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate – could play a role in what most believe will be a very close election. And I think Romney has a much easier path than Obama. After an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars by Democrats in attack ads about Romney, the former Massachusetts governor’s negative ratings are very high. That image alone should continue to make it relatively easy for him to exceed expectations in the upcoming debates, as debate watchers realize he isn’t the robber baron he’s been portrayed as.

The American people already know Obama, and he continues to score extremely high in likability. Few expect Obama to perform as badly in the upcoming formats, which won’t be as free-wheeling as the first debate, and will feature more prepared rhetoric, which is Obama’s strength.

Certainly, the contrast is clear between the candidates, with Obama advancing a more expansive role of government, and Romney championing the role of individuals and the free market.

Another View: Lessons From The 2012 Political Campaign

No one expected Romney to dominate Wednesday night’s debate, but things are so polarized among the electorate that it will take a lot to shift the momentum. This race has very little to do with the individuals, and probably even less to do with their past record of either success or failure. The days of a large middle ground have evaporated, and elections in our two-party system are now about ideology and demographics.

The data show that if you’re a Protestant, you tend to vote Republican. If you’re Jewish, you lean Democrat. If you’re a schoolteacher, unionist, journalist, actor or government employee, you tend to identify with the Democrats. If you’re a small business owner, drive a pickup truck, hunt, or live in a rural environment, you’ll side with the Republicans.

Sure, there are exceptions, but what is striking is just how few there are. If you’re African-American or Hispanic, that alone provides me a 95% or 70% chance, respectively, of predicting your voting preference. Tell me where you live, your gender, race and career, and I stand a good chance of assessing how you will vote. Those who fall out of these patterns tend to be driven by single issues like the environment, abortion, or support of the military.

Politics have changed dramatically in this country; there are hardly any “Rockefeller” Republicans left; the liberal wing of the Republican Party has turned to the Democrats. Meanwhile, the blue-dog Democrats from the South are now Republicans. It’s not impossible to find a Republican at an environmental meeting, or a Democrat at a NRA or pro-life rally, but it’s not common.

Obama is the most ideologically driven president of modern times, which explains why he’s both loved and reviled. I think such ideological extremes will become the norm. Romney is possibly the last of the moderates with a chance of becoming president. Personally I’d prefer a candidate more conservative than Romney, but I have to wonder if someone who’s more focused on moving forward won’t be more effective than the purist who insists it’s his way or the highway.

The one main advantage that Romney has is what both diehard conservatives and liberals have always considered to be his fatal flaw – he’s pragmatic. He has a history of compromise, working across the aisle, and of being more focused on getting things done and moving forward than adhering to strict ideology or predetermined courses of action.

That isn’t the world we tend to operate in today, where strident partisanship demands absolute ideological purity. There’s been a lot of talk about this being an election where America is at a crossroads; that’s certainly true, as the paths presented by each party’s standard bearers is drastically different from the other.

I think we are witnessing how elections will be conducted in the future. While we’ll continue to see billions spent promoting individuals, the key change in the political environment is that elections will be won or lost at the primary level, as party designation will be the key locally, regionally and nationally. That means the focus will be on building coalitions with special groups and political parties. That equates to a major restructuring of our two-party system and how dogmatic they will be on the issues.

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

Bob Neese (not verified)
on Oct 5, 2012

For those who had only "seen" and only "knew" Romney through the lens of a created caricature via the Obama machine and media, and have any sort of openness in their minds, I'm sure they were thinking during and after the debate that this guy is nothing like the bill of goods I've been sold.

It was obvious who, on that stage, is ready and willing to take leadership and face issues head on.
I don't know if this ship can be turned around, at this point by anyone, but I believe Romney/Ryan will both make the effort and be willing to let the buck stop with them.
Whatever the words from the debate, (and Romney certainly did have the edge there), the body language of the President could serve as a metaphor for his entire Presidency..... head down, never looking Romney in the eye.

Whenever there has been a real crisis, (not created ones, that we have seen for diversion and to push an agenda), it has been 'head down', 'eyes averted', 'Hey!, see that squirrel over there!'. From declaring by fiat, the recession over, recovery here, just after he took office...and while things got worse, he was on to fundamentally transforming healthcare, against the will of the majority...then..... to Deepwater Horizon, failing to take action for about two months, then taking action to knock the whole Gulf Coast economy, in spite of two court orders overruling him.
There is no recovery, offshore oil is harvested by China and others, there is no pipeline, there are no federal land permits being issued, all expansion is on private land....and he makes the claim that under his administration we're producing more oil and natural gas than ever. He fights against that every step of the way and then takes credit. Along the way his cronies and bundlers have received and mostly squandered some $90 billion for his precious "green energy".

Now, we're going on a month with Al Qaeda very much alive, tens of thousands of new "We are all Osamas", black flags fly above our embasssies, our Ambassador assassinated, and his eyes are averted, refusing to face the reality that his administration is culpable, negligent, and one might argue "criminally negligent". There is no leadership, again. Only blameshifting and obfuscation, again.
We have a President who will not look us or the problems, honestly, in the eyes.

How ironic that Obama hit the campaign trail yesterday, all full of bluster, accusing Romney of "not taking responsiblity". When Obama, who seems to think himself a king, is the queen of non-transparency and shunning all responsibility. "Accuse your opponent of everything you are." I guess that Machiavellian strategy does work, because he continues to use it.
This little "god-king" gets right back out there with his organizing and agitating, demanding that Big Bird and birth control are the issues of the day, that we must save.
Forget Christopher Stevens... (Who?)....forget the most unemployed workforce since the depths of the Carter recession years..... forget Israel....forget Iran, (it's just a little country anyway)....forget an exploding Middle East, and imploding Europe... but let's make sure we provide $18,000 in free prophylactics to girls from 12 to 26. What? Is this a plan to make all girls into prostitutes, turning 10 tricks a day, as a "national service corps" (or 'corpse', as Obama would say)?

The sad thing is that this most pathetic of Presidents will continue to garner the support and votes of so many whose only criteria is the (D) in front of his name..... and not the democratic republic that we are losing.

Avatar (not verified)
on Oct 9, 2012

Romney can be a good President IF he doesn't pay so much attention to appeasing his far right. He should govern as if it's his last term. Romney got the nomination only because of the fools, clowns, and incompetents he ran against. He could be the last chance, unless things change, for a pragmatic moderate in either party to be President.

on Oct 6, 2012

Right on Bob!!! It could not have been spoken any clearer! I wish everyone in the country would read that.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 9, 2012

For Obama's sake, I hope ObamaCare covers sore rear ends because he sure got his kicked for 90 minutes straight during the debate with Romney.........

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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