Romney or Obama: Who Won The Final Presidential Debate?

President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney squared off in the third and last presidential debate on Monday, Oct. 22. Here's how Massachusetts Republicans and Democrats reacted.

Massachusetts Republicans and Democrats both expressed confidence in their candidates after the final presidential debate, with Republicans citing Gov. Mitt Romney projecting an image of a "capable Commander-in-Chief" and Democrats citing President Barack Obama's line about the military having "fewer horses and bayonets" as standout moments: that's the major finding of the Red and Blue Commonwealth flash polls sent out to local politicos immediately after the debate ended on Monday night. 

Obama and Romney faced off on Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florda, with CBS' Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer moderating a debate that focused on foreign policy, but regularly delved back into domestic policy differences between the candidates. 

Of the 21 local influential Republicans who took the flash poll, six (28.6 percent) said Romney won by a large margin, 12 (57.1 percent) said he won by a slim margin, two called the debate neutral and one voted that Obama won by a wide margin.

On the other side, 22 local influential Democrats took the flash poll and 17 (77.3 percent) said Obama won by a wide margin, two said he won by a slim margin and three called the debate neutral.

Democrats surveyed also overwhelmingly said that Obama would be the consensus "winner" as declared by the national media: nine (40.9 percent) said by a wide margin and 12 (54.6 percent) said by a slim margin, while one said Romney by a slim margin.

Republicans surveyed were somewhat evenly divided on who they thought would be the consensus "winner" as declared by the national media: six (28.6 percent) said Romney by a slim margin, another six said it'd be neutral, 5 (23.8 percent) said Obama by a slim margin and four (19.1 percent) said Obama by a wide margin.

'Failed Policies' Versus a Military Equipment Zinger

Asked what moment would stand out in the minds of conservatives in Massachusetts, several local Republicans pointed to Romney attacking Obama's policies as president, while also saying the GOP nominee projected a strong and presidential presence.

"Mitt looks like a Commander-in-Chief, Obama is still explaining his failed policies," one Republican poll taker wrote.

Another local Republican cited Romney's response when Obama said that the nation cannot "go back to the same policies" that led to the nation's difficult economic situation and needs to go forward.

"I couldn’t agree more about going forward," Romney replied, "but I certainly don't want to go back to the policies of the last four years ... It's just a tragedy in a nation so prosperous as ours that these last four years have been so hard." 

Asked what moment would stand out in the minds of progressives and liberals in Massachusetts, several local Democrats pointed to Obama's retort when Romney said that the Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917.

"We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed," Obama said. "We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities."

Other Democrats cited Obama attacking Romney's previously stated positions, which they characterized as "flip-flops."

What About Swing Voters?

Asked what moment would stand out in the mind of swing voters in Massachusetts, some Democrats again cited the "horses and bayonets" line, while others pointed to Romney "so often agreeing" with Obama on foreign policy issues.

"Romney backing off from every criticism of the President's foreign policy," one Democrat respondent wrote. "And his closing, talking repeatedly about peace as if reciting something memorized. And not answering the President's comments about his campaign. He came out as if trying to get by and not make any waves."

One local Republican also said that "horses and bayonets line was memorable;" however, one local Democrat said that Bay State swing voters would remember "how calm and clear Romney was in his statements."

Other local Republicans cited Romney touting his ability to work with Democrats from his time as governor of Massachusetts, while others pointed to him repeatedly bringing the topic back to the question of the economy.

"Twenty-three million Americans out of work and food stamps at an all-time high—Obama has had four years to improve it and failed," one Republican respondent wrote.

Will the Debate Make a Difference?

Both sides believed that their candidate's performance would increase the number of votes their candidate would win in Massachusetts.

Eight local Republicans (38.1 percent) said they strongly agreed Romney's performance would increase his tally of Bay State votes, another eight somewhat agreed, four (19.1 percent) were neutral and one strongly disagreed.

Eleven local Democrats (50 percent) said they strongly agreed Obama's performance would boost his Massachusetts vote totals, eight (36.4 percent) somewhat agreed and three were neutral.

In final remarks, both sides returned to previous themes, with several Republicans citing Romney's "statesman" demeanor, which they contrasted with Obama's "defensive" and "disruptive, undisciplined" demeanor.

Several Democrats again cited Romney's "etch-a-sketch treatment of al previous statement," as one respondent put it, and that Romney "parroted" Obama "on most of his policies."

That said, one person on each side of the aisle said that both candidates performed well, while another looked forward to Nov. 7, the day after the election.

"Glad it's over," the respondent wrote. "Now let's get through the next two weeks!"

Who do you think won the debate? Tell us in the comments below.

Red and Blue Commonwealth Surveys

Our surveys are not a scientific, random sample of any larger population, but rather an effort to listen to a group of influential local Republican activists, party leaders, candidates and elected officials in Massachusetts. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in Massachusetts' Patch's surveys, although not all responded to this story's questions.

Patch will be conducting Red Commonwealth and Blue Commonwealth surveys throughout the 2012 election season in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in Massachusetts. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in periodic surveys that last just a few minutes, please contact Associate Regional Editor Daniel DeMaina at danield@patch.com.

Bryan G. McCarthy October 23, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Obama clearly dominated and was victorious in last nights debate. Romney was clearly out of his element and showed that he has no experience or knowledge in foreign affairs. God help us if this empty suit plutocrat squeeks by in a narrow victory in this close race. The Obama supporters must maintain a strong ground game to get out the crucial vote to be victorious.
Buster October 23, 2012 at 02:12 PM
When you go to vote remember what Obama told Russia 's Putin: "I'll be more flexible after I'm re-elected". Do we really want to roll the dice?
LCT October 23, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Amen, Ed! Let's not forget BO cancelled, at Russia's request, the planned missile defense shield for Poland. To add insult to injury, BO got zero in return from Russia for not living up to promises to Poland. Evidently Putin has some kind of influence over BO. I shutter to think what else is on the drawing boards. Obviously BO does not like Israel's Prime Minister & BO has, in my opinion, treated Israel badly, been rude, dismissive & condescending. I have never figured out if BO is naive or truly believes if the US is just "nice enough" everyone will love us & all problems will magically disappear. Isolationism has never worked & in a global economy, it will not work now. BO is a big believer in a "new world order"; just review some of what he's directed our UN ambassador to agree to: proposed world taxes on Internet; world taxes on our own natural resources (oil, natural gas, etc); limits where/when our Navy can go & where our planes can fly; cap & tax on carbon emmissions; international gun control. We cannot tolerate giving up our sovereignty via UN treaties/agreements. Never mind that the US already pays the most $$ of any other nation via the UN, a corrupt, outdated organization we should consider leaving & it move to another country; let someone else pick up all the expenses. Our enemies neither respect nor take BO seriously; they know he has no backbone. Our national security & wallets cannot take 4 more years of BO's policies/philosophies.
Buster October 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM
923 Executive Orders in 40 Months All Presidents have issued Executive Orders, for reasons that vary, some more than others. When a President issued as many as 30 Ex. Orders during a term in Office, people thought there was something Amiss. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT 923 EX. ORDERS IN ONE PART OF ONE TERM YES, THERE IS A REASON. IT IS THAT THE PRESIDENT IS DETERMINED TO TAKE CONTROL AWAY FROM THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. Even some Democrats in the House have turned on him, plus a very small number of Democrat Senators question him. WHAT IS HE REALLY TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH
LCT October 24, 2012 at 06:26 AM
Ed, he wants complete & total government control, with him in charge. If he's re-elected, one of BO's next exec orders will be another end-run around the Constitution & make 10-12 million illegals instant citizens, hoping 95% of them will become Dems thus we will never again need elections. Wouldn't surprise me if he tries to run a 3rd time. Choice #2, bring this country to its knees by causing so much debt our dollar collapses & we become a 3rd world nation in about 5 wks after the collapse. Then he can be King of the New World Order, not just POTUS. The utlimate in "spread the weath"--give all we have to all the 3rd world countries so we're all equally poor. BO scares the daylights out of me. He has issues. He's got a narcissistic, egocentric personality (listen to him talk, it's all "I" & "me"; he never says "my fellow citizens". "fellow Americans", etc) with delusions of grandeur. I strongly suspect he also has abandonment & women issues [thanks to his mother]. You don't need a PhD in Psychology to read him just pay attention to his behavior & body language. He's controlling, needs to get last word, argumentative, doesn't take criticism well, does not accept responsibility for anything/blames others, exhibits no empathy, lies easily, acts petty/petulant when contradicted, refuses to see reality if it doesn't fit his agenda, projects he knows everything, thinks he's above the law because he's "special".


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