Romney victory boosts poll numbers
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 7, 2012 14:10
This long, grueling election season has come to a head with the first presidential debate a little more than a month before the election. Just 90 minutes in front of the camera had a huge impact. Not only did Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign donations spike, but his volunteer count increased as well. While President Barack Obama was gaining in key swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida last month, polls showed Romney leading 49 to 48 percent in Virginia, 49 to 47 percent in Florida and trailing Obama by just 1 percent in Ohio on Thursday. Even die-hard liberals such as Jon Stewart and Chris Matthews conceded Romney’s victory in the debate.
Part of Romney’s perceived win likely came from his presence onstage. He was cool, calm and collected and projected a great deal of confidence in what he was saying, while the president began to ramble and stumbled over his words at times. Romney seemed prepared for what was thrown at him.
Although the arguments back and forth contained much of the same rhetoric that we have been hearing for months, there was actually a decent, substantive debate on the numbers. The first numerical debate, a hot topic that reappeared throughout the night, was Obama’s accusation that Romney would essentially give $5 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthy while necessarily raising taxes on the middle class or increasing the deficit to pay for it. Romney made it very clear that he had no interest in reducing the tax burden on the wealthy and would under no circumstances raise taxes on the middle class, nor approve a tax cut that would raise the deficit.
Another recurring topic was Medicare, with Romney claiming that Obamacare cut $716 billion from the program by decreasing the amount paid to providers across the board, causing some 17 percent of hospitals and nursing homes and 50 percent of doctors to stop accepting Medicare patients. Obama claimed Romney’s plan, which would allow future retirees to have the option of choosing the current Medicare plan or a plan through a private insurance company, would eventually lead to the erosion of the current plan, leaving many seniors, who could not afford a private plan, stranded. Romney fired back, claiming that if the federal government really could provide a better plan at a lower cost than the private insurance plans could, then people would choose it. It was times like these when the president failed to give a compelling response.
These are just two examples. Through the muck of political ads and commentary that pollutes the airways, it is very difficult to get any real information about candidates in an election. “Experts” have already torn apart the numbers and arguments used by both sides, but thanks in large part to the line of questioning from the moderator, this debate was very useful for voters because it gave a clearer picture of the philosophies driving the candidates’ policy formation.
While both agree that a large amount of government regulation is essential for free markets to work, the degree to which the government should be involved differs. Obama believes in a larger government role, where raising taxes and regulations leads to a fairer, more secure economy. Romney also believes that government has a lot to say about the welfare of its citizens, but that this should be done more at the state level than the federal level. Romney said lessening the tax burden for the middle class and cutting back the red tape tied around small businesses leads to economic growth, leaving all Americans better off and the government better able to care for those who are worst off.
Romney has finally succeeded in energizing his base, something he has had a hard time with and desperately needed to do. But one month is an eternity in the political world, and this victory will be essentially meaningless if Romney cannot maintain his momentum, especially in the next two debates.
Romney and Obama face off again on Oct. 16, and the president is expected to come out swinging. After the first debate, he’ll need to if he plans on remaining in the White House.