They are two different questions. Who do you think won the debate? Who did you like?
When you ask people to score the debate they look at a lot of factors. Aggressiveness, zingers, time, body language, etc. In essence, people try to figure out what others might think.
If you ask them simply who they liked, they answer may sometimes be very different.
I think that is the case last night. Obama was clearly aggressive, interrupted frequently, wouldn’t concede points even if he had to lie to do it, and so on. In short, he was the opposite of the 1st debate Obama. I think, for the most part, Romney was the same Romney from the first debate.
So when you ask people to ‘score’ the debate, they notice the difference in Obama and give him points for all that. But my first impression is that people who liked the Romney they saw in the first debate will continue to like him now, maybe even more.
I think this was backed up by the polling. Both the CNN and CBS polls gave Obama a slight ‘win,’ but in every category that matters they gave the edge to Romney. Every Category.
Romney was seen as better able to handle most issues. he had an 18-point edge among registered voters on the economy (58 percent to Obama’s 40 percent ); a 3-point edge on health care (49 percent to 46 percent); a 7-point edge on taxes (51 percent to 44 percent); and, largest of all, a 23-point edge on the deficit (59 percent to 36 percent).
This result was then backed up by Frank Luntz’ Nevada undecided voter focus group which lambasted Obama and gave wins to Romney overall. Asked to describe Romney after the debate, former Obama voter after former Obama voter said “Presidential”, “Informed”, “Presidential”.
The conventional wisdom may be to give the debate to Obama, and that is fine for now. But I think the votes go to Romney.
And when Obama loses in 3 weeks, the pundit class will take a more honest look at this debate and conclude that Obama did himself no favors and that Romney may have won the election last night.