Political observers and wishful liberals have been waiting for the president to receive that surge in the polls that’s due to hit any time now.
After all, we’ve been told he won not one, but TWO debates over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
The post-debate instapolls said one thing yet the national and battleground polls are indicating something else.
Four days removed from the final presidential debate of the election cycle, an event where the president managed to work in an attack on his Republican opponent almost every time he had the microphone, Obama is still trailing in most of the benchmark national polls.
Romney leads President Obama by five points in the Gallup poll and three points in the Rasmussen poll. The Republican candidate for president also has a one-point lead in an ABC News/Washington Post survey.
The battleground state polls don’t paint a much better picture for President Obama. Romney leads in two Florida polls (+5 in Sunshine State News and +2 in Rasmussen) and enjoys a lead in two North Carolina surveys (+8 in Gravis Marketing and +1 in Civitas).
Rasmussen has Romney and Obama tied in Wisconsin, a state where the Republican nominee had been trailing the president in recent polls, and a group called Purple Strategies has the race a tie in Virginia. Polls conducted by Fox News and Rasmussen each gave Romney a two-point lead in the Old Dominion on Thursday.
The news on the poll front is not all bad for President Obama, who has leads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado surveys conducted by various polling entities, though the president does not exceed 50% in any of the polls.
After winning (according to the instapolls) a debate centered on what was billed at the Democratic ticket’s strength (foreign policy), why hasn’t President Obama experienced his own surge in the polls the way Romney vaulted over the incumbent after the Republican’s strong showing in the first debate?
Pitted against Monday Night Football and the seventh game in the National League Championship Series, 8 million fewer people tuned in to the third debate though the final match-up between President Obama and his GOP challenger still attracted 59.2 million viewers.
Furthermore the president’s aggressiveness and his zingers made headlines and were recycled through the media for a few days, so the public received secondary exposure to the last debate.
The debate did not take place in a vacuum so the lack of presidential leap isn’t attributable to an absence of audience.
That Romney has maintained most of his first debate gains might be indicative that many Americans made up there minds after the initial square off with the remaining debates being political theatre for the mostly decided.
As I pointed out in a previous column, Richard Nixon performed well in the second, third and fourth televised presidential debates of 1960 but John Kennedy won the debate that counted most, the first.
There are other explanations for President Obama’s relatively static poll numbers.
First, dissatisfaction with the economy cannot be mitigated with pithy one-liners. Bad times can’t be spun. There’s only so much damage control any politician can do in a televised debate when the economic reality of the times is there to greet people in the morning.
Secondly, the festering matter of Libya has eroded President Obama’s foreign policy credentials.
The Obama Administration’s “Who’s On First?” routine concerning Benghazi would almost be amusing if an American ambassador and three others had not been killed.
Though Romney punted on Libya in the debate’s opening and the media has worked to sweep it under the rug, the issue is still there as are some very important unanswered questions that the White House continues to dodge.
Third, the president once again failed to offer a compelling defense for the high unemployment rate that has been part of his first term. Though the final debate was supposed to be focused on foreign policy, the economy made a cameo appearance in the debate thanks to Romney’s linking it to national security. And the president whiffed it again.
Finally, Obama’s third debate “smack talk”, while music to the ears of his hardcore supporters, came off as unpresidential. The president may have impaled himself with his own rhetorical bayonet, appearing less worthy of the office he occupies.
Just as only one person at the table had the title, only one person exhibited presidential dignity. And they were sitting in different chairs.
Scoring points doesn’t help your cause when you’re losing badly on style.
The post-debate polls don’t reflect two victories for President Obama, but a staggering loss in the first and two straight incompletes.