Halperin Post-Debate Grades

He gave both candidates a B+ but his summation of each was the real story:


The main thing: Tried all evening to tease out for America the patent contradictions he sees starkly in Romney’s past statements, but could not cast them in sharp enough relief to break through for the non-expert viewer. Efforts to make Romney seem unpresidential and unprepared failed to rattle his opponent, but did produce a series of rhetorical moments that will get television replays. Still haunted by his Denver failure, he stayed hyped up throughout, pleasing his base. Significantly stronger on points, but less likely than his rival to have his performance impact the outcome of the race.

Grade: B+

The main thing: Achieved his ongoing goal of appearing to be an acceptable alternative for American voters. Was determined not to let the President bait him into the sort of titanic clash that characterized the previous debate — and/but didn’t ruffle when challenged. Performance will energize his own base for sure, even if he expressed agreement with the President on numerous occasions. If his task was to remain calm and present himself to the electorate as a reasonable, peace-seeking, credible, centrist, sure-handed commander-in-chief, he seemed to clear the bar for at least some undecideds. Completed the trifecta of appearing as the President’s semiotic equal in every debate.

Grade: B+

This is why you can buy people saying Obama won the debate but Undecideds are still voting for Romney.  Each candidate had two different goals.  Romney achieved his, Obama tried but failed to achieve his.


  1. Posted October 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    Obama belittled the idea of a strong navy, which no doubt reassured shipyard workers in Virginia, New Hampshire, and Maine. Thanks Barry!

  2. Posted October 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    James – I thought the same thing that that would turn off tons of people…almost all the Focus groups even the Fox one reacted POSITIVELY to Obama’s smartass response, go figure.

    The issue that Obama has been trying to do for 3 debates is cast Romney as a flip flopper…you said this. Here in lies the rub….NO ONE WAS PAYING ATTENTION DURING THE PRIMARY.
    No one cared. No one took notes of what Romney said or didn’t say.

    The only statements that mattered are from really the convention on. Obama’s team didn’t seem to figure that out. He is not a 35 year Senator like John McCain he has not voting record.,.,,,Romney was teflon to those charges

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