The Corner

Slight Romney Edge: Momentum Continues

President Obama certainly showed up at this debate, and at points did quite well. Romney matched, and I think exceeded him by a bit, especially in the second half. But the debate was close.

Ultimately, the contest was tilted by Obama’s less-than-inspiring record. On the deficit, on the economy, and on Libya, Romney effectively took advantage of the weakness in that record. Romney’s answer on his differences with President George W. Bush was superb, and particularly effective.

The question is, regardless of who you thought might have edged out a victory, will Obama’s solid performance change the dynamic of the race coming out of the first debate. It will, in the sense of preventing the crash that would have come from two poor performances in a row for the president. Beyond that, however, I don’t think this debate will change all that much.

Common wisdom coming into today’s debate was that Obama needed a win to reverse Romney’s momentum, whereas a tie would have been sufficient for Romney to keep capitalizing on the new campaign dynamic. I think that was right. While I think Romney did a bit better than Obama tonight, neither side can point to an obvious, lopsided victory.

The core dynamic here is that Romney has proven himself to be a perfectly acceptable alternative to Obama. The silly portrayal of Romney in all those negative ads has been exploded. Obama’s inevitability is gone. The underlying state of the country, which is not at all good, has become the issue. All of that is bad for Obama and very good for Romney.

Does this guarantee victory to Romney? Not necessarily, but the fundamental dynamic of the race now favors the challenger. The core of Obama’s strategy was to distract attention from his record by rendering Romney unacceptable. That strategy has failed. In its absence, all Obama has is the hope of that his base is now large enough to hand him a narrow victory. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Narrowly, Romney is the victor tonight. More important, narrowly, Romney is now the favorite in this election.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Broward’s Cowards

It is impossible to imagine circumstances under which Broward County sheriff Scott Israel could attempt to perform his duties with the confidence of the public. He should resign immediately, and if, as he promises, he refuses to go quietly, then he should be shown the door by the people he professes to ... Read More

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

CNN’s Shameful Town Hall

CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA, and anyone who didn’t say exactly what they wanted to hear. ... Read More

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More