I watched the debate once again and I thought it was a very spirited tie although an instant poll had Obama winning.

The debate was certainly unlike any we have seen before, with heated discussion and interruptions from both candidates who freely wandered around on the stage, often moving close to each other.

Politico offers a Debate Transcript.

One thing is certain, Obama did much better in this debate than the first. He also delivered a solid close in contrast to a miserable flop last time. Romney did OK but not as good as last time.

The instant poll of undecided voters had Obama winning 37% to 33% with 33% calling it a tie.

Both candidates scored some points and it is likely that supporters of each candidate thought their candidate won. On some points I agreed with the president, on others I agreed with Romney.

Questions were from an audience of supposedly undecided voters. I wonder how many of them really were.

A “gotcha” question on Libya (from someone I believe is a closet Romney voter) turned out to be anything but “gotcha”. Obama handled himself well, and the commentators after the debate noted that Republican strategists were likely to drop Libya as a talking point.

Similarly, there were cream-puff questions on women’s issues that seemed like they were from closet Obama supporters.

I thought Romney generally did better on energy, but it was by no means a knockout.

On jobs, people will probably believe what they want to believe.

Neither candidate really made any specific job proposals. Romney kept repeating he knows what it takes to create jobs, but it must be a secret because he never offered any substantive details. Obama clearly doesn’t have much of a plan either, but at least he did not keep pretending that he does.

Both candidates are in favor of Pell Grants but I think they should be scrapped.

Romney repeated his statement made at least twice previously, that he would label China a currency manipulator on day one. That is seriously wrong policy.

For a detailed discussion, please see Fair Trade is Unfair; In Praise of Cheap Labor; Are Bad Jobs at Bad Wages Better than No Jobs at All? Are Paul Krugman and Mitt Romney On the Same Page?

Over half the time I did not particularly care for statements made by either candidate.

The instant survey showed Romney would be better for the economy, but Obama better for the middle class. If the election comes down to that distinction, my view is Obama will likely win.

However, my view is not what is important. What the average undecided voter wanted to hear in the debate does matter. Yet, I do not know what that is, or whether the voters heard what they wanted.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

“Wine Country” Economic Conference Hosted By Mish
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