Presidential Forensics Done Romney-Style

After watching the 2012 Presidential Debates, I’ve come to the conclusion we are now seeing a new branch of “President Debate Forensics” being established that is utterly different in objective than traditional one concerned with scorning points. Instead, it is concerned with communicating the candidate’s PRESIDENTIAL demeanor through visual media.

That it has been successful in communicating that demeanor can be seen in this Michael Barone piece. Barone says the public’s break towards Romney is happening with affluent suburban voters and particularly college educated women.

It looks like my thought of Romney’s last debate performance being a “intimate performance for women” was spot-on, and his intended audience is responding –

That tends to validate my alternative scenario that Mitt Romney would fare much better in affluent suburbs than Republican nominees since 1992, running more like George Bush did in 1988. The only way Pennsylvania and Michigan can be close is if Obama’s support in affluent Philadelphia and Detroit suburbs has melted away.

This also helps explain why Romney still narrowly trails in Ohio polls. Affluent suburban counties cast about one-quarter of the votes in Pennsylvania and Michigan but only one-eighth in Ohio.

A pro-Romney affluent swing is confirmed by the internals of some national polls. The 2008 exit poll showed Obama narrowly carrying voters with incomes over $75,000. Post-debate Pew Research and Battleground polls have shown affluent suburbanite Romney carrying them by statistically significant margins.

In particular, college-educated women seem to have swung toward Romney since Oct. 3. He surely had them in mind in the foreign policy debate when he kept emphasizing his hopes for peace and pledged no more wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.

At this point, my gut says that the Romney campaign bet it all on the debates to get past the Pro-Obama media filters to voters and prepared accordingly.

Romney’s debate performances moved the focus groups so consistently. I have to think that his debate preparation firm was coaching him through his debate preparation with multiple primary and general election focus groups. Focus groups that were providing video performance feed back to Romney through out both the Republican Primary and General Election campaigns.

Romney just set a new and very high bar in American Presidential campaigning by founding a new “Presidential forensics” branch of debate. One that isn’t intended to “win” debates in the traditional debate forensics sense of “scoring points.”

“Presidential forensics” Romney-style is intended to showcase the candidate’s ability to project a PRESIDENTIAL demeanor to a visual media audience past media gatekeepers, whatever the debate format or moderator bias.

It worked. It will be copied.

6 thoughts on “Presidential Forensics Done Romney-Style”

  1. It will be copied, for sure, because it worked. I’m not sure it was all that intentional. The debates gave us the first chance to see the two men together without the MSM bias filters. The contrast was startling just because of who they are … Romney: serious and careful, Obama: petty and condescending. The conditions in any future cycle will unique. Hopefully the biggest difference going forward will be the death of the corrupt and biased liberal elitist MSM. Take that out of the equation and Obama very well may not have gotten out of the Democrat primaries.

  2. LAS,

    Think through the implications of teleconferencing as a tool for debate preparation to reach audiences.

    Senior corporate types like Romney have been using it professionally for 15 years.

    What that means is that senior corporate CEO’s now have been getting practical training in projecting personal demeanor that our politicians — Democrats especially since the institutions they control don’t use teleconferencing for the most part — have not.

    There are implications in that for future political campaigns between senior corporate business men at state and national level versus non-government “community organizers” and those on the academic track to political office.

  3. Yes, often the optics are more important than the substance of what’s being said, especially in the optically oriented world of today. Your comments about businessmen prompted a memory from 1979. At the time I was working in a mid-level management position with Chrysler Corp. Lee Iacocca had just been hired to head the company and he decided to use video taping of some of his talks with the upper managers to communicate to all employees – a novel and innovative idea for the time. We received the first tape at our manufacturing plant just a short time before the first showing. We had several hundred employees assembled in the cafeteria when we began playing the tape. Iacocca had not yet developed his very effective and polished style, plus the camera was pretty close, so all you saw was his face and upper body. He was nervous at first, but was speaking clearly and was effectively explaining his plans for the company. He had on reading glasses and they slid down his nose a bit. This kept happening and became noticeable, and a little distracting to those viewing his presentation. Suddenly, one of the hourly guys yelled out, “Look at that SOB, he’s giving us the finger!” Indeed, Iacocca was pushing his glasses up with his middle finger. After that, it was chaos, with laughter, yelling and a count progressing each time this happened. Any “communication” of plans or ideas was completely lost. I was appalled that his people hadn’t watched the tape and caught this issue, but later found out that it had been reviewed a number of times before distribution. I also found out that many groups had this exact same response from their hourly employees. Obviously, the mangers who’d reviewed the tape were listening, but not really watching; concentrating on the verbal and not the optics. Not so with the hourly folks.

    I don’t know exactly what happened after that initial presentation, but subsequent ones were much better, and I never saw Iacocca touch his glasses again.

    These kinds of presentations have come a very, very long way since then.

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