Obama won the third debate, but the political impact remains uncertain

 I have five basic comments on Monday night’s third presidential debate:

1. In terms of “debating points”, Obama clearly won the debate.  He had better command of the issues, and he had highly effective rebuttals to every Romney criticism. 

2.  Romney refrained from criticism on Benghazi.  Evidently, he felt that such criticism could backfire.

3.   In spite of losing the debate, Romney did appear “presidential” and in that sense solidified his status as a potential commander-in-chief, avoiding a potential vote loss on the leadership issue.

4.  Doubtless, the right wing of the Republican Party was dismayed at the number of times Romney agreed with Obama during the debate.  These voters have nowhere else to go, however, and they are so determined to defeat Obama that they will stick with Romney.

5.  The outcome of this election will be determined by the vote in Ohio.  This is why Obama continues to mention the auto bailout every chance he gets, as he did during the debate.  One out of every eight jobs in Ohio is connected, directly or indirectly, with the auto industry.  We will learn the ultimate impact of the third debate when we see the polls in Ohio in a few days.

Obama does have a stronger ground game in Ohio than Romney.  George W. Bush had a better Ohio ground game than John Kerry in 2004, and that was a key factor in his victory in Ohio that gave him his reelection.  If Obama wins Ohio, he gets a second term.


Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University. 

Obama won the third debate, but the political impact remains uncertain