Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election


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The Other Presidential Debate

Last night was the final of three presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Each is the candidate for the Democrat and Republican parties, respectively. The entire presidential campaign so far has focused solely on these two men and their respective running mates.

When you go to vote, you will see many different candidates than just Obama and Romney running for president. They are third party candidates, and there are actually a significant number of them that have made it on the ballot in many states. These third party candidates may significantly affect the race in several key battleground states.

While these candidates are on the ballot in many states, they were not invited to participate in any of the presidential debates with Obama and Romney. The Commission on Presidential Debates sets the requirements for participation, and thus will have the final say on who is allowed to participate. So why do third party candidates never appear in the presidential debates with Democrats and Republicans? Continue reading

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Oh Snap!: A Look At Last Night’s Best Debate Zingers

Last night Obama and Romney came out swinging, eager to make their last joint appearance on television a memorable one.

With polls showing a virtual tie in the electorate, both candidates had different goals going into the debate. With Romney wanting to maintain his slight lead  and Obama needing to increase momentum, the fight was on.

Here’s a look as some of last nights best one liners!
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Well this is it folks- it’s time for the final Presidential debate and tonight’s winner could cement (Romney) or retake (Obama) the lead in the race to the White House.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll, released today, shows both candidates at a virtual tie, with both carrying 46% of the electorate ahead of today’s debate. With his recent debate performances, Romney has begun to close the small gap remaining between him and the President and is beginning to take the lead according to some recent polls.

With polls this tight, it is time for both candidates to fight harder than ever to gain those undecided votes. With less than 5% between them, neither can afford to lose ground with these voters who hold the outcome of the election squarely in their hand.

So what, if anything, will this debate change in such a tight race?

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What People Really Remember from Debates

Biden Laughing at the VP Debate for The Christain Post

Biden Laughing at the VP Debate for The Christian Post

Debates wield the power to make or break an election. Right now, America watches the Mitt Romney surge as a direct result following Barrack Obama’s poor performance at the last presidential debate. Yet, at the end of the day, voters will not remember every fact and comment each candidates says, but how they responded to the questions. The Washington Post has a great quote that says, “Debates are as much about conveying personality as politics.”

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Debates Will Decide this Election

Obama verse Romney from OC Family

Obama verse Romney from OC Family

President Obama will have his rematch with Governor Romney in a town hall style debate this Tuesday night at 9:00 PM ET. After a lackluster debate performance during the last presidential debate, President Obama must come to this debate fully loaded and ready to fire back to have any chance to stop the recent Mitt Romney surge.

Presidential debates prove to be more influential in this year’s election than many analyst predicted. The GOP continues to point out 1980 debates that took Ronald Reagan from the losing candidate and transformed him into a serious contender for the presidential position. Reagan then went on to eventually win the 1980 election. Flash forward to 2012, and the same can said about how Mitt Romney’s debate performance has created this surge that has allowed him become the serious presidential candidate that many people refused to acknowledge before.

In the most recent Gallup poll, Romney has a four-percentage-point advantage over Obama, which is not statistically significant, but shows that Romney has consistently edged ahead of Obama in the last several days following first presidential debate.

Gallup Poll

Gallup Poll

Rich Galen, a conservative commentator, told CNN, “The rise in Romney’s favorability numbers was due partly to support from right-leaning voters who don’t like Obama but weren’t yet sold on the Republican until the first debate.”

Romney must stay focused in order to keep this momentum. The reaction to Obama’s first debate showing left voters shocked, and made them take a second look at Governor Romney. The Romney campaign throughout this election has been criticized for its poor job in appealing to voters early on. This means that if Romney slips up, the fall will be even greater. Most people will try new ideas at first, but if the ideas fails to see continuous results people always run back to what they already know. Romney must maintain his current momentum with the debates so that voters will to warm up to the idea of a Romney Presidency and not run back to the Obama presidency they already know.

According to the Pew Research survey, the strong Romney performance in Round 1 has changed how voters set the odds for Round 2: 41% of Americans expect Obama to win; 37% expect Romney to prevail.

Tonights debate will have major impact on this election. American voters have numbed out the television ads and now are turning to the debates in order to imagine what each presidential candidate will bring as president. If Obama outshines Romney tonight, Obama already has the base and notoriety to quickly regain his lead among likely voters.

Keep checking Destination 270 for all your election updates and stories.


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The Expectations Game: A Little Different This Time Around

It’s a commonly run campaign tactic for a candidate to attempt to lower any publicly held expectations of him before entering into a debate.  The thought process is simple.  If the public expects the candidate to be a poor debater, all he has to do is show that he isn’t—or defy expectations—in order to garner an advantage in the public’s eye.

In the days leading up to this year’s first presidential debate, we saw both campaigns purposefully playing the expectation’s game. The Romney campaign continuously touted the President’s renowned rhetorical skills and ability to work on his feet, while the Obama campaign noted the extensive debate practice that Mitt Romney had recently been granted in the primaries.

Whether the public noticed it at the time or not, these were deliberate messages communicated by the campaigns with the intentions that they would result in higher expectations for their opponent and lower expectations for themselves.

While the winner of the expectation’s game for the first debate is subject to one’s personal opinion, I would argue that Mitt Romney definitely came out victorious.  Much of President Obama’s 2008 victory was a result of his impeccable verbal communication skills, and he had continued to ride the wave of personal popularity for much of his presidency, despite the more negative mitigating factors like the current state of economy.  Continue reading


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Nonverbals Play a Huge Role in Debates

The Vice-Presidential Debate occurred last night, with many people going into it believing that the stakes were extremely high. This is unusual because most political analysts agree that VP debates really do not matter. In any case, both campaigns attempted to lower expectations so their respective candidates could shine.

Did either of the candidates win the debate? I heard it on the radio while driving to Kansas and believed that both candidates were pretty evenly matched in their ability to convey the campaign message and key policy issues. However, upon seeing the polls and watching the official replay today, it is obvious that nonverbal communication played a key role in voter’s minds. Continue reading