Romney managed to show that he was still a viable candidate in spite of a barrage of recent criticism and increasingly negative polls. Obama spoke with his usual oratorical mastery and projected an air of deep thought and calm. But to many, the president appeared rather tired and lacking in his usual pep. Being president and campaigning at the same time is exhausting.
The first debate alleviated some of the gloom previously felt by Republicans and slightly lifted Romney’s poll standing. Yet neither candidate generated much emotion, unlike the waves of hysterical adulation for Obama in 2008. Instead of being the Expected One, Obama turned out to be another typical politician mouthing platitudes and making promises that are not kept.
Even so, the underlying arithmetic of the election was still against the Republicans – known as the Grand Old Party, or GOP.
White, middle-aged men are Romney’s key supporters, along with Bible Belt Republicans, farmers and ardent supporters of Israel. Say “Republican” and up pops the image of an angry, overweight, 60-something male golfer, shaking his putter in fury at the “socialist” “Muslim” president.
Problem is, there are not enough angry overweight white men and religious fundamentalists to give Romney a decisive victory. Evangelical Protestant fundamentalists voted 78% for George Bush in 2004 and 74% for John McCain in 2008.
But many of these “born-again” Christians, who make up 45% of Republican voters, are leery of Romney’s Mormon faith which is regarded as weird and heretical by mainstream Christians. Many may simply not vote for Romney.