I’m a fan of Yuval Levin, and I think his take on last night’s debate is well worth reading because he makes a shrewd point I haven’t seen elsewhere.
Levin focuses on the impact of having the audience questions come from “undecideds” from Nassau County, as opposed to, say, Ohio or Virginia. Last night’s “undecideds” tended to sound like disappointed Democrats. Accordingly, their questions often contained liberal premises (as with the immigration question) or addressed liberal concerns (gun control, the supposed gender wage gap, etc.).
On the surface, this phenomenon favored Obama, but at a deeper level it may have helped Romney. The atmospherics of a room full of non-conservatives who are disappointed in a liberal president, and who receive reasonable-sounding answers from his opponent, may have made this a pretty good night for Romney.
Levin’s final point is sobering, however.
Romney was neither effective nor sure-footed on foreign policy in this debate, and that’s the subject of the next one (not to mention a foremost responsibility of the president). There is a little time to hone and improve on that front (and they might start by looking at what Paul Ryan had to say last week, and how he said it), but there does appear to be a need for some work before next week’s final debate.