Three-quarters of the way through last night’s presidential debate, I figured the debate was over — and that Mitt Romney was headed for the White House.
I feel a little better about the event this morning; most of the media analysis I’ve read this morning is calling President Obama a clear winner in the debate. But I’m still worried. Yes, Obama did far better than he did in the first debate. And yes, Romney again spent the night telling one lie after another. And yes, he continued to deal in generalities.
But he’s so darned good at it. He sounds so convincing. The fact that his performance in the first debate completely upended the race — eliminating overall Obama’s lead, shrinking Obama’s strong control of the swing states, and making the majority of voters in the latest polls think that Romney’s the more likable — all that makes me worry about the intelligence of voters. If they didn’t see through the lies and the platitudes the first time, why would they now?
Barring some dramatic outside occurrence, I assume after next week's debate, the race will still be a virtual tie. That, I'm afraid, means that the outcome of this important election will be determined by paid advertising’s effect on sadly malleable voters.