Monday, October 22, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 15

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

3rd Presidential Debate Down to the Wire

As Polls Erase Gap, Gap Erased in Debate on Foreign Policy, Except for Benghazi


The fourth and last debate of the post-convention period, occurring after early voting has already begun in several states, will likely attract the least interest by Americans who generally place foreign policy below domestic concerns.  It will also likely feature the fewest surprises, and the smallest gap perceived between the two presidential candidates in their debate performance, not to mention actual policy.


Both candidates now have two debates under their belts, are now very familiar with each other’s debate strengths and weaknesses, and foreign policy is the one area where they differ least.  Obama should have entered this final debate in a much stronger position, had it not been for the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in the city of Benghazi in Libya. This attack and the administration’s miss-statements on the attack, combined with President Barak Obama’s perceived softness in the first presidential debate, may have been one reason for the sudden erosion of support for President Obama among those in the wavering middle that were previously leaning his way.  Nonetheless, Americans don’t care much about foreign policy except insofar as they see it affecting their jobs, and having their sons and daughters serving abroad.  Issues of trade disputes, arms treaties, currency valuations, etc., are not going to sway their votes.


Setting that aside for a moment, some have long argued that Jimmy Carter lost the U.S. presidency to Ronald Reagan in 1980 because of the Iranian attack on the U.S. Embassy, and the long hostage crisis that followed.  The fact is President Carter was already perceived weak before that, the U.S. economy was in a proverbial tailspin, and the Soviet Union seemed to be pushing U.S. influence back around the world.  The Iranian hostage crisis merely seemed to epitomize the view of Carter as impotent and naïve.  Yet, had the electorate been more evenly divided then as it is today, could it have been the tipping point?  The thing about elections is that so many factors come into play; in close elections any one of them can be considered a deciding factor.


In any case, the disaster at Benghazi is the one area where we may see some heated words. The president can be put off balance if he does not carefully calibrate his words on how he explains the reason his administration persisted that a U.S. video provoked the attacks for two weeks, when last week, in the nationally-televised debate, answering Governor Mitt Romney’s charge that he waited two weeks to call it what it was, the president said he did call it “an act of terror” in a Rose Garden press conference the day after the attack occurred.  What the governor did not think to ask then, but surely will address today: then why did the president’s administration proceed for two weeks to repeatedly say it was a spontaneous act of protest, if he already knew it was not?  In Benghazi, the president has a tough circle to square.


In short, in this last debate, despite drama-seeking social media jockeys fiercely trying to be the first to score hits with a hyperbolic observation, we think the various polls will reveal only slight majorities favoring one or the other as the victor of the last debate – unless Romney hits a knockout blow on Benghazi (barring some new piece of information, we think he will only manage to make the president look evasive for a few minutes).  Even if he does, it will not sway votes.  People care much more about the economy and healthcare.




Comments may be directed to contactproject@ultrapolisproject.com, or if you receive the newsletter email, also via a reply to the email address from which you receive it.



October’s UWFR Cartoon

The Party Wars of the PosesBafo's World_Poses_War_Edit.JPG


Main Index of the Ultrapolis World Forecast & Review


© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project – All Rights Reserved.