Wednesday night in Denver sees the first of three US Presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. At odds of 1.22, Obama is firm favourite to retain the presidency. We are offering 3.75 for Romney and this first debate is being considered make or break for the challenger. If Romney can emerge victorious from this debate then it could shift the shape of this election and build momentum that has been sorely missing from his stuttering campaign.
Romney has been preparing for the inaugural debate, focused on domestic policy, since June. His campaign team admitted recently that Romney has been practicing some “zingers” that, they hope, will capture the imagination of the voting public. Why you would let people know your candidate has been practicing funny one-liners in advance is anyone’s guess.
Considering Romney’s campaign has been littered with gaffes it seems more likely that Romney will fluff these lines and potentially do his own image some more harm. Romney and his campaign team’s hopes have rested on these debates for a long time now and a poor performance on Wednesday could deal a potentially fatal blow.
Obama hasn’t had the opportunity to do as much debate preparation as Romney. However, winning this debate isn’t as crucial to his game plan - he simply has to play it safe. Yet could Obama’s clear frustration at the deadlock of the last few years in power negatively spill over into the debate?
Romney’s well-practiced “zingers” are designed to ruffle the President, so half the battle for Obama is ensuring he doesn’t rise to the bait. Both men hope to force the other into a mistake or… brace yourselves, say something they truly believe rather than the safe platitudes popular from the campaign trail.
All the polls place Obama as the clear front runner, especially since the infamous “47%” video leak. Republicans fight back by referring to the example of Reagan v Carter. Back in 1980 Jimmy Carter was leading Reagan by 8 points in the polls while ultimately, Reagan won by a massive landslide.
This may encourage you to back Romney to pull a Reagan, but before you do, consider that Reagan was a far superior campaigner to Romney. Additionally Obama is a more popular President than Carter was and today the US economy is slowing ticking upwards. Republicans will continue to wheel out Reagan’s great feat but it is one that is not applicable to this race.
All things considered, success for Romney is a tall order. This election mirrors the 2004 tussle between George W. Bush and John Kerry; a charismatic yet opinion-dividing incumbent versus a lifeless challenger running a weak campaign.
It is important to note that John Kerry decisively won that first debate back in 2004 and even if Romney trumps Obama at Wednesday’s showdown and his odds shorten for the presidency he will have to do a great deal more to tip the vote come November. Much like in 2004, there will be talk of a close race right up until the votes are counted but all the signs point towards Obama staying in the White House for four more years.