10/17/2012 UDATE, below: -- Last night's debate was the night of the dueling focus groups. And Mitt Romney won both.
Yes, I know . . . for some it was the night of the instant replay, and the overturning of the "penalty flag" that moderator and self-proclaimed debate referee Candy Crowley had initially thrown on behalf of Obama during the exchange, and then later had to clarify on behalf of Romney. She also interrupted a few of Romney's important points (e.g., on "fast and furious") to Obama's benefit. But as for the Libya question itself, one has to wonder why Candy did not step in and try to get the President to actually answer the question that was asked? Well, theoretically one wonders, anyway. But I guess the realistic bottom line is this: Who didn't expect her to find an opportunity to generously weigh in on the President's behalf, especially once she had started grasping for the "xyz" follow-up role that she had fancied for herself pre-debate?
For me, it was the focus groups that best defined the night. Clearly stung by the obvious success of past voter instant analysis of the Presidential debates by the Frank Luntz focus groups, and the benefit in viewership that it has brought to Fox coverage, MSNBC trotted out their own "focus group" last night by putting together a somewhat smaller group of eight undecided voters to give their "quick scorecard" reactions right after the debate with their personal reflections on the exchange.
As you can see from the clip, embedded below, the MSNBC effort, as duly noted by Daniel Halper of the Weekly Standard, obviously backfired a bit, leaving the MSNBC group commentator with the unenviable task of putting on his game face and, shall we say, canting the results by laughably announcing to host Chris Matthews that it was "pretty much a draw, Chris."
Pretty much a draw? Come on!
Note his questioning of two previously strong demographic groups for Obama. Of the four previously undecided women on the panel of eight, one immediately judged the results pretty enthusiastically in Romney's direction, while the one student says she leans toward Obama based on "social issues." But the remaining two women say that, while they are still "undecided," they also both spoke (again) very enthusiastically of Romney's track record, both in business, and as the governmental steward of the economy in Massachusetts while he was Governor. In fact, one of those two even said she was "almost there" -- i.e., leaning strongly to Romney.
When asked, the lone African American on the panel expresses disappointment that neither of the candidates was speaking to issues of importance to African Americans. If his opinion is shared by anything more than a tiny percentage of African Americans, then Obama is in danger of losing votes from the most enthusiastic group demographic that comprises his base of supporters!
And finally, one of the four male members of this small group of eight undecided voters announced that he was now fully declaring for Romney as a result of the debate.
So how in the world was that "pretty much a draw?" And, bear in mind that this all came from a group of eight previously "undecided voters" that had been hand-picked by producers at the most blatantly partisan cable channel in the history of television?
That was no draw!
Time to switch over to a priceless moment from last night's Frank Luntz focus group for an absolute gem of a reaction -- what will undoubtedly go viral and be seen as a priceless moment, capturing a man who was a 2008 Obama supporter, but who is now describing in his own salty way, the essence of the Obama performance over the past four years!
That was a very funny moment, during what was manifestly a good night overall for Romney with the Luntz group. It was as if one member of that focus group suddenly and just for one brief second began going all "Animal House" on the process -- distilling the over-analyzed moment with a perfect shock summation that actually made it "on the air" on Fox last night.
Remember during the Student Court trial when the Delta house members in the audience began "coughing" obscenities into their hands to expose the kangaroo court proceedings Dean Wormer was directing at them?
Well, this guy held the "cough" and just came right out and blurted the obvious on national television. Good for him!
Frank Luntz got it -- and he smiled. The characterization also elicited a laugh from the group generally, and more importantly, from voters all over this country who saw it, because it was so spot on. Unfortunately, one suspects there will be threats of violence to follow for his expression of candor.
That comment perfectly encapsulated exactly what Obama -- with consistent assists from his trusty acolytes in the press -- have largely been trying to spoon feed the American people for four long years now! And this guy stepped up and called the President out on it.
To me, hat makes him this year's Joe the Plumber, but with a cherry on top. The perfect summation to a substantially incompetent Presidency!
This time, it is Barack Obama and his failed policies that are on the chopping block. They have demonstrably failed, even as is now being publicly recognized by some of his 2008 supporters.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey at HotAir has posted a very convincing argument on why Candy Crowley, the moderator, was actually the big loser of the second Presidential debate.
Candy was certainly a loser, and I respect Ed's thoughtful opinions as much as anyone today. But there is no question that one of the biggest losers was MSNBC for their attempt, as described above, to do a left-wing version of the Luntz focus group, and coming up so small!