California political insiders on both sides of the spectrum came away from Wednesday night’s presidential debate underwhelmed by President Obama’s performance, with two-thirds of respondents to a Patch survey saying Mitt Romney carried the evening.
Patch sent a quick, unscientific poll to our roster of Democratic and Republican party activists in the hours immediately following the debate; 24 Republicans and 15 Democrats responded.
Eighty-eight percent of Republicans said Romney had won the debate by a wide margin, while none dubbed Obama the winner.
“Romney was poised, calm and presidential,” one Republican said. “Obama was a deer in the headlights and looked scared.”
While 40 percent of Democratic respondents said Obama had won, a full third gave the victory to Romney, and the remaining 27 percent were neutral.
“Where was my President?! He was not present,” one Democrat lamented.
“The surge is to Romney,” said another.
Disappointment with the president’s performance didn’t stop Democrats from criticizing Romney’s lack of specific policy proposals on issues like healthcare and cutting the deficit.
“Romney doesn't even know the details of his plans. He'll find that out when he gets his marching orders from the Republican leadership when he meets with [them] after his inauguration,” a third Democrat quipped.
But Republican insiders disagreed, saying Romney was “in command” and “knew his facts and information.”
Ninety-two percent of Republicans said the debate would give a leg up to Romney’s campaign, which has struggled in recent weeks, while 60 percent of Democrats said the same of their candidate.
Respondents from both parties agreed that media pundits would crown Romney the victor. And they found something else to agree upon, too: the evening’s other loser.
“The loser in the debate was the moderator [PBS’s Jim Lehrer] who lost control of the format,” said one Republican, voicing an opinion also expressed by several Democrats. “However, that led to a better format of each candidate responding to the other’s statements in real time.”
The two candidates will meet again Oct. 16 in Hempstead, New York, where they’ll answer audience questions on foreign and domestic policy.
Who do you think dominated Wednesday’s debate? How do you think it will affect the election? Tell us in the comments.
The Red and Blue California Surveys
Our surveys are not a scientific random sample of any larger population, but rather an effort to listen to a swath of influential local Republican and Democratic activists, party leaders and elected officials in California.
See the list of Republican and Democratic participants at the end of this article.
All of these individuals have agreed to participate in surveys, although not all responded to this week's questions.
Patch will be conducting Red California and Blue California surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of Republicans and Democrats on the ground in California. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in a weekly surveys that take just a few minutes to answer, please email Sandra Oshiro.