Due to a fortunate conflict, I was unable to watch the debate last night. And still I woke this morning and all the world was well. As my friend Rusty said on Facebook this morning, cutting back the steady push of news and politics has been beneficial to the health of this news junky.
But the jones is strong and I could not stay away completely. Last night, instead of participating in the nerd equivalent of the NFL playoffs (people drunk and screaming at televisions but with less violence), I monitored my twitter feed.
As you might expect, my feed is a mixture of partisans from both sides, analysts from both sides with a few straight up journalists thrown in.
It was a very different experience from my past exposures to the ugly irrational thing that is the debate game and there were some trends that I think are enlightening.
-It was obvious they were in the weeds very early. Past history has shown that unless your name is Bill Clinton, getting into the detailed policy debates don't work for an incumbent. Debates are more about appearing "Presidential"
-As the debate progressed, the trend became one side of partisans getting more aggressive, more bloodthirsty and the other side getting more defensive. As with most everything in life, defense in the middle of close combat is an eventual loser. Examples below.
-Example One from the Republican side. A normally rational individual snarked that it was "quaint" that a candidate who ran on the nebulous hope and change has a problems with Mitt Romney's 57 point plan. A ridiculous straw man but campaigns are built on ridiculous straw men. It's an effective talking point.
-Example Two from the Democratic side. A particularly excitable person proclaimed that Mitt Romney's statement on Big Bird cost him the election. That's just ridiculous. Good rule of thumb - when your supporters start focusing on minutiae, you're losing. (Just look at 2008 with a rational eye. Rezko, Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, etc)
-When Bill Maher starts making teleprompter jokes, President Obama is obviously not doing well.
Bottom line - based on my twitter feed, I knew Mitt Romney would be "declared the winner" before the spin room even opened. But does it matter? There's lots of ways to look at it but I leave you with the words of one of the few rational players in the game; Nate Silver
-My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kick a field goal,
perhaps not bringing the race to draw, but setting himself up in such a
way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount