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Zach Friend Headshot

Why Obama's Debate Performance Means He'll Win

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I'm pretty sure the Obama campaign will trade a debate loss for an electoral win. And if the campaign plays it right that is exactly what will happen.

After all, sometimes you need events like this to refocus a campaign.

You needn't look further than the Romney campaign. For over two weeks the Romney team couldn't walk up to a microphone without having trouble. They refocused, turned efforts to the debate and now have new life.

If done right, the president's debate performance should allow the campaign to redouble their efforts on what actually wins elections: narratives.

Why?

Elections are won and lost on narratives, stories as to why voters believe the candidate will take you from where you are to where you want to be.

And Governor Romney gave the Obama campaign a huge gift during the debate: dozens of examples that reinforce an election-ending narrative about Romney.

That narrative is that Romney flip-flops or will say or do anything to get elected. And according to multiple non-partisan fact-checkers, he pulled some good ones during the debate.

Facts, by themselves, don't win elections.

But the electorate has little interest in flip-flopping or dishonest candidates. You don't need to look very far back in history to see this is the case.

Senator John Kerry was defined as a flip-flopper in the 2004 election by the Bush campaign and just like Romney, was deemed a winner of the first debate. In fact, he was deemed the winner of all the debates.

It didn't matter.

He lost.

There is no doubt that the debates matter but not as much as the narrative does. The Obama campaign has an opportunity to use this performance to refocus the entire election story back to Romney's narrative.

If they do, they may find that it's easy to trade a debate loss for an election win.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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