There seem to be two clear conclusions to draw from the debate. One of them should shake up the "conventional wisdom" of what strategy you should pursue when you're the incumbent President and you're ahead in the polls.
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Although it remains to be seen how or if the debate will affect the polls, Obama's "stock price" immediately tanked on both of the major online betting markets, Intrade and Betfair.
The "prevent defense"--a popular President playing not to lose--is a lousy debate strategy. In the first debate, Obama's strategy seems to have been designed around the theory that the debate could only hurt him, not help him. As a result, it hurt him badly. What Americans saw on stage was not a "President" and a "Challenger." What they were two men, one of whom was speaking much more confidently, passionately, and compellingly than the other. If being President was supposed to confer some special aura on Obama, that aura evaporated as soon as Romney won the first question. And for the rest of the night, what Americans saw was a man they normally think of as being a super-inspiring orator and leader seeming hesitant, inarticulate, and mystifyingly rattled by a good salesman.
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