Although the media consensus was that Obama won the 2nd debate “on points”, and the polling on who won seems to bear that out (Gallup Obama win 51%, Romney win 38%), he hasn’t had the big bounce back in the polls that one would expect. With the extra help he had from the moderator from DNC, err… I mean, CNN, Candy Crowley, you would expect a rebound to bring the polls back to something similar to what they were before Romney’s big first debate win. But it hasn’t happened.
In the days prior to the first debate, Gallup showed Obama at 50% and Romney at 45%, a five point advantage. In the days after the first debate, the race had shifted substantially to dead even; Obama and Romney both at 47%. After the second debate; the one that Obama won? The Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll for Saturday the 20th shows Romney 49% and Obama 48%. In other words, Obama didn’t benefit from his win.
There have been a couple of theories as to why Romney was able to make up such ground on the strength of one debate performance. One is that Romney just looked more Alpha next to Obama on stage, helping Romney close the gender gapamong women voters. Another is that this was the first opportunity much of the country has had to see Romney, and surprisingly, they liked what they saw. Considering that Romney has been the prospective nominee for most of the year, how is it that just now, the American people are getting their first unfiltered look at the Presidential nominee mere weeks before the actual election? Particularly with the amount of media attention shown on this race?
As I predicted back in February, this was going to be a campaign between the Republicans against the Democrats and the mainstream media working together. That is a tough combination to beat, but from the moderating in the Republican Primaries to the moderating in the second debate, the MSM has abused the position of power they hold in our society to take sides in this political contest. It’s hard to draw another conclusion when during the 2nd debate President Obama made reference to the moderator about a transcript of a speech he had made that the moderator just happened to have with her at the moderator podium. How would he know she had a copy with her? And why, of all the data and information that she would have, would it include that particular speech? Curious indeed.
Romney’s coverage in the media has consisted of Democratic attacks and then pundits sitting around and discussing those attack ads. That was the bulk of the political coverage over the past few months. With that sort of coverage model, how is the public ever going to be able to draw informed conclusions on the candidates? So when the public actually got to see Mitt Romney for the first time, in a 90 minute unfiltered debate, he didn’t appear at all to be the image that had been carefully crafted of him by the media. He didn’t seem to be a racist, sexist, homophobe, or a cross between Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, and Mr. Potter from, It’s a Wonderful Life. Instead they saw a serious competent businessman, not a murderer or tax evader.
That wide divergence of perception explains the polls. Even if Obama has another win “on points” in the 3rd debate on Monday, I don’t see the race changing based on the debate. The perception of Romney has already changed.
So to my original question, how much is media bias worth? Since Romney was 5 points down before the first debate and the race is neck and neck now, that’s your answer.
Five percentage points.