3rd Debate Leaves Door Open
by The Milton Measure on Friday, November 2nd, 2012
The third and final 2012 presidential debate, which took place on October 22, focused on foreign policy. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney faced off in a two-hour, traditional-style debate. While Obama and Romney both detailed their foreign policy plans and included much talk about their domestic policy plans, the only questions that really matter ed were: who won the debate, and how did the debate change the outcome of the election? According to polls, Obama won, but without much effect on the overall presidential race.
The debate included topics such as America’s fight against terrorism, Bashar al-Assad’s massacres in Syria, America’s role in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, how the United States should view Israel as an ally, America’s relationship with China, and security threats to the nation. The candidates, however, tried to drive these discussions back to the economy at home and the state of the nation. While Obama also affirmed the importance of promoting efforts against terrorism, supporting Israel, helping minorities and women in developing nations, and improving the economies in the Middle East, he specifically emphasized that the key to being successful internationally is to improve the situation at home. He hopes to provide incentives for businesses to bring jobs back to America. Governor Romney, while agreeing with much of the President’s foreign policy, highlighted the president’s silence after the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009, saying that America has “to stand for our principles, stand for our allies, stand for a strong military and stand for a stronger economy.” For Romney, a stronger military means increasing the Pentagon’s budget, a source of contention between the two candidates. In the midst of the foreign policy talk, Romney, like Obama, discussed domestic issues such as education and the economy; both men continued to criticize their opponent’s policies as well as promoting their own plans.
FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times-affiliated, highly acclaimed electoral statistics blog run by statistician Nate Silver, says that as of October 28th, the chance of an Obama victory is 74.6%, only 7% more than what the polls said on the day before the debate, October 21st. Although the final debate had a minor effect on the polls in Obama’s favor, there was no significant swing in either direction. This is in stark contrast to the effects of the first debate: the day before debating Romney in Denver, October 2nd, Obama had an 84.7% chance of winning, but nine days after the debate, that figure had plummeted to 61.1%. Clearly, the first debate had a greater effect on the polls. This lack of movement could be attributed to multiple reasons: the election is so near at hand that voters have mostly made up their minds; swing voters may not have been able to pick a decisive winner; and neither Obama nor Romney provided any new or controversial statements. Whatever the reason for the debate’s small impact, with November 6th only days away, both candidates find themselves in essentially the same place as on October 21st.
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