Tonight marks only the second time in this campaign season that the sitting president will face off against his Republican rival. There’s been much anticipation over the upcoming debate, being held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The talking heads and the blogosphere have been abuzz since the strong performance Mitt Romney gave at the first debate on October 3rd. Romney received much praise for his performance, while Obama was criticized as having been lackluster, even apathetic toward a seemingly critical moment in the presidential campaign.
For Romney, the first debate was a crucial “make or break” moment for his presidential ambitions. For weeks beforehand (and especially after the Republican National Convention in early September) Romney struggled with one problem after another. The 47% comment; being outshined by a chair at the RNC; the criticism he received after the Libyan ambassador’s death. The Republican contender struggled to maintain his position in the polls, lagging behind Obama in many critical swing states; Conservative pundits felt almost dejected. Many were hoping for some miracle before Election Day.
Obama, meanwhile, continued to do well in the polls not so much because of his actions, but almost seemingly in spite of them. Romney was Obama’s biggest help in the national polls; he, too gave a lackluster performance at his own convention, having been largely outshined by Bill Clinton the previous evening. And yet he held a comfortable lead in the electorate, so there was no need to worry, right?
Then came October 3rd. The biggest reaction many people seemed to have toward that debate was surprise at how strongly Mitt Romney debated. It wasn’t so much that the President debated poorly; it was simply that it was obvious his contender was much more prepared and eager than the sitting President. But this little detail has made all the difference. In the two weeks since the debate, Mitt Romney has surged, breathing new life into his once dejected supporters. Obama supporters, meanwhile, are wondering just how this could have happened with only one debate. The vice-presidential debate has been largely declared a tie, and has made seemingly little difference.
There are two more debates before the election; two more chances for Mr. Romney to continue his momentum and two more chances for Mr. Obama to turn around a campaign that has begun to lost some of its momentum. If there is one thing political observers and voters alike have learned, it is that as far as the voters are concerned, the race is far from over.