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Debates Will Impact National, State Vote, Insiders Say

Republicans feel Gov. Mitt Romney rode the momentum of his strong start, while Democrats believe President Barack Obama rebounded down the stretch.

Debates Will Impact National, State Vote, Insiders Say Debates Will Impact National, State Vote, Insiders Say Debates Will Impact National, State Vote, Insiders Say

From “bayonets and horses” to “binders full of women” the presidential and vice-presidential debates were chock-full of memorable moments.

Moments that will carry either President Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Romney to victory Nov. 6, or be pointed to as a reason for one of the candidates’ defeat.

And with the fourth and final debate in the books, Patch asked: Who gained an edge during the back-and-forth bantering over the last month?

For Republicans who responded to Patch’s latest survey of political insiders, the first debate between Romney and Obama set the tone and marked the beginning of a momentum-building run for the GOP candidate.

Democrats who responded to the survey, however, said Obama bounced back nicely and that Team Obama won the final three debates and, in essence, the presidency.

“The (president) and (vice president) winning three of four debates will be viewed by history as a key factor in getting them re-elected,” one respondent wrote.

When Monday's debate ended, Patch sent its "Blue Wisconsin" and "Red Wisconsin" surveys to more than 150 influential members of both parties who have agreed to be regularly polled between now and the Nov. 6 election. The panel includes party leaders, elected officials, talk show hosts and prominent political bloggers.

Parties align with their candidates

Most of the 22 Democratic respondents — more than 86 percent — felt the Obama-Joe Biden team helped its chances to win the election by either a wide or slim margin over the Romney-Paul Ryan team with its combined performance during the four debates.

And two moments stood out to Democrats the most: Romney’s “binders full of women” comment in the second debate and candidate’s back-and-forth on Libya during that same town-hall event.

“The one defining moment was when Mitt Romney was proven wrong about Libya and President Obama’s response during the town hall,” one respondent replied. “It showed Mitt Romney is willing to do and say whatever it takes to win, even if that means lying.”

The “binders of women” comment, “made women very angry” and “a lot of women took issue with that statement and what it represents,” respondents said. 

Meanwhile, nearly 88 percent of the 33 influential Republicans who responded said Romney and Ryan helped themselves the most during the debates to win Nov. 6. Many said Obama’s performance in the initial debate was a momentum builder for the GOP, and that Obama was dismal and horrid, that he “failed to show up,” was asleep and had a “deer in the headlights” look.

“Mitt Romney ‘hitting a grand slam homerun’ in the first debate,” one responded replied when asked what is the one moment that has the potential to change the course of the campaign. “His presence, his confidence, his knowledge, his pleasant demeanor showed the American people the real Mitt Romney, not the one the Obama campaign pictured him via ads for months and months!”

Another respondent said Romney has continuously come out of the debates “looking like a President while Obama has the appearance of being the challenger.”

And Monday's winner was ...

A majority of the 33 Republican respondents felt Romney won Monday’s debate, but 45.5 percent of them thought he did so by only a slim margin with 27 percent feeling it was by a wide margin. Another 21 percent felt there was no winner.

Two Republicans thought Obama won last night’s debate.

Several Republican respondents thought Romney earned high marks for highlighting what he dubbed Obama’s “apology tour” and thought Obama’s “bayonets and horses” comment was one of the more memorable of the evening.

The “bayonets and horses” comment also resonated among influential Democrats, as 14 respondents pointed to it as the most memorable moment of the debate. They felt it accentuated Romney’s “naivety” and “shallow understanding of foreign policy.”

Of the 22 responding Democrats, 19 (or 86.4 percent) said Obama won the final debate by a wide margin. One said Obama had a slight edge, one said there was no winner and one even said Romney won by a wide margin.

Several influential Republicans felt Romney played it relatively conservatively in the third and final debate and were surprised that he didn’t attack more. One respondent believes it was because the Romney camp feels it’s in the lead.

“A clear line was drawn between the two contenders,” another Republican respondent wrote. “One was clearly up to the task, while the other was outclassed and never deserved the job he has abused these past (four) years.

Other findings from the unscientific survey:

  • Democrats were split on whether or not Obama and Biden did enough during the debates to carry Wisconsin next month. Nine strongly agreed that tandem did, and another eight somewhat agreed. But three weren’t sure either way and two strongly disagreed.
  • Nearly 73 percent of Patch’s influential Republican strongly agreed that Romney and Ryan did enough in the debates to increase their chances of carrying Wisconsin, with the other 27 percent somewhat agreeing.

Patch will be conducting "Red Wisconsin" and "Blue Wisconsin" surveys between now and the election in hopes of determining the true sentiment of active members of both parties in the Badger State. Not everyone who agreed to be part of our survey panels participated in this survey.

Participants in Patch's Red Wisconsin Survey are:

Jim  Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin, former chief of staff for Assembly Republican Leader Jeff Fitzgerald; Bill Berdan, first vice chairman, Wauwatosa Republicans; Keith  Best, public relations chairman for Waukesha County Republicans;  Bob Bradley, party activist; Charles Brey, field director for state Assembly candidate Tracy Herron; Tracy Brodd, Republican campaign worker; Paul  Bucher, former Waukesha County district attorney and candidate for Wisconsin attorney general; Roy Catron, Tea Party activist; Andrew Cegielski, former Milwaukee County Board candidate; Sara Conrad, party activist; Bill Cosh, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources; Michael Crowley, Waukesha County supervisor; Jake Curtis, former state Assembly candidate; Lou D'Abbraccio, board member, Racine County Republican Party;  Brian Dey, Racine County Tea Party member; Fred Dooley, conservative blogger; Steven Duckhorn, former Republican candidate for Milwaukee County sheriff; Bill Folk, chairman of Racine County Republican Party;Elisabeth Friesen, Republican activist; Jesse Garza, chairman, St. Croix County Republican Party; Mark Green, senior director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and former congressman; Chris Haines, longtime campaign volunteer and former GOP campaign manager; Deb Hawley Jordahl, conservative strategist and consultant; John Hiller, co-chair of Scott Walker's transition team as governor; Sandra Hollander,  member of Mitt Romney's  “Juntos con Romney” leadership team; Ethan Hollenberger, former chairman of the College Republicans at Marquette University and staff member on several legislative campaigns; Mark Honadel, state reprsentative, 21st District; Marguerite Ingold, party activist; Valerie Johnson, former GOP fundraiser and staffer for various campaigns; Thomas J. Keeley, political consultant; Scott Kelly, communications director for former state Sen. Van Wanggaard; Cindy Kilkenny, conservative blogger; Rik Kluessendorf, attorney and former state Assembly candidate; Dan Knodl, state representative, 24th District; Tif Koehler, campaign volunteer and civic leader; Johnny Koremenos, regional field director for Tommy Thompson campaign; Gordon Lang, member of North Shore Republicans; Chris Larsen, trustee in Village of Sturtevant Trustee; Noelle Lorraine, field coordinator for Americans for Prosperity; John P. Macy, first vice chairman of Waukesha County Republican Party; Kathleen Madden, Waukesha County Clerk of Circuit Court; Ginny Marschman, party activist; Jessica McBride, conservative columnist; Bill McCoshen political consultant and; former cabinet secretary for Gov. Tommy Thompson; Joe Medina, party activist; Randy Melchert, field director for Mark Neumann's campaign; Gerald Mellone, Brookfield alderman; Ryan Morgan, conservative blogger; Dean Munday, conservative blogger; Mark Neumann, U.S. Senate candidate and former congressman; Kelly O'Brien, founder of Shorewood Citizens for Responsible Government; Eric Wm. Olsen, conservative activist; Nick Oliver, state Assembly candidate, 22nd District; Victoria Ostry, treasurer of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women.; Rick Owen, Brookfield alderman; Monnine  Parnitzke, party activist; Steve Ponto, mayor of Brookfield; Don Pridemore, state representative, 99th District; Paris Procopis, grassroots activist; Jim  Pugh, director of public relations and issue management for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce; Denise Rate, Tea Party member; Bob Reddin, Brookfield alderman and executive director, Jobs First Coalition; Pam Reeves, treasurer, Waukesha County Republicans;  Joe Rice, former county supervisor and member of North Shore Republicans Executive Committee; Nate Ristow, candidate for 13th District State Assembly; Brandon Rosner, Wisconsin Republican consultant;  Bill Savage, aide to state Rep. Don Pridemore and  officer of Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association; Jim  Schaefer, Muskego-Norway School Board president; Josh Schimek, conservative blogger; JB Schmidt, conservative blogger; Christian Schneider, senior fellow at Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and former policy analyst for Wisconsin State Legislature; Ashley Schultz, state director of the Recall Action Fund;  Nick Schweitzer, Libertarian pundit and blogger; Tim Schwister, former State Assembly candidate; Dan Sebring, vice chairman, Milwaukee County Republicans and candidate for 4th Congressional District; Cathy Stepp, Wisconsin Natural Resources secretary and former state senator; Jeff Stone, state representative, 82nd District; Jonathan Strasburg, attorney; Dave  Swarthout, board member, 1st Congressional District Republicans; Charles Sykes, conservative talk show host for WTMJ Radio;  Steve Taylor, Milwaukee County supervisor; Jenny Toftness, executive director of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee; Greg Torres, Jefferson County supervisor; Jim  Villa, former chief of staff to County Executive Scott Walker and Alberta Darling; current CEO of Commercial Association of REALTORS® Wisconsin; Robin Vos, state representative; 63rd District; Dan Vrakas, Waukesha County Executive; Yash Wadhwa, former State Assembly candidate; Jeff Wagner, conservative talk show host, WTMJ Radio; Tom Weatherston, candidate for 62nd Assembly District and Village of Caledonia trustee; Steve Welcenbach, head of the Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association and Tea Party activist; Todd Welch, Wisconsin state coordinator at Campaign for Liberty; James Wigderson, conservative blogger and columnist for Waukesha Freeman; Eddie Willing, conservative columnist in Racine County and executive director of FoundersIntent.org; Chris Wright, Sturtevant village trustee and former candidate for State Assembly; Phil Ziegler, CEO of InPro Inc. and party activist.

Patch's Blue Wisconsin Survey participants are:

Kelley Albrecht, candidate for 63rd State Assembly District; Mandela Barnes, candidate for 11th State Assembly District; Ron Biendseil, vice chair for membership, Dane County Democratic Party; Tammy Bockhorst, membership secretary/membership chair, Milwaukee County Democratic Party; Randy Bryce, candidate for 62nd State Assembly District; Brian Carlson, liberal blogger; Sachin Chheda, chair, Milwaukee County Democratic Party; Jeff Christensen, chair, 5th Congressional District Democrats; Mark Conforti, chief negotiator for the Fox Point-Bayside Teachers Association; Rick Congdon, former judge and former chair, Democratic Party of Waukesha County; Deb Dassow, progressive and labor activist, and semi-retired educator; Victor Drover, liberal blogger; Dale Dulberger, party activist; Perry Duman, candidate for the 60th State Assembly District; Brett Eckstein, Democratic attorney; Waring R. Fincke, vice chair, Washington County Democratic Party; Stephanie Findley, chair, 4th Congressional District Democrats; Kelly Gallaher, founding member, Community for Change; Heather Geyer, liberal columnist; Ginny Goode, Grassroots North Shore; Darcy Gustavsson, party activist; Kristin Hansen, neighborhood team leader, Obama for America and co-host, Drinking Liberally Waukesha; Robert Hansen, co-chair of Progressive Democrats of America in Milwaukee County; John Heckenlively, secretary, 1st Congressional District Democrats; Kelly Herda, treasurer, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Women's Caucus and political consultant; Robert Heule, Region 5 Chair, Democratic Party of Milwaukee County; Peter Knudsen, legislative aide and longtime Democratic staffer; Marga Krumins, candidate for 97th State Assembly District and associate chair Democratic Party of Wisconsin Women’s Caucus; Bill Kurtz, candidate for 21st Assembly District; John Lehman, state senator, 21st District; Matthew Lowe, youth outreach director, Waukesha County Democratic Party; Fran Martin, election observer for the Democratic Party and appeared in Wangaard recall ads; Tom Michalski, Oak Creek alderman; Bridget Moen, chair, Democratic Party of Ozaukee County; Meg Moen, treasure, Democratic Party of Ozaukee County; Rick Moze, party activist; Lisa Mux liberal blogger, and co-founder and co-host of Drinking Liberally Waukesha; Thad Nation, political consultant and former aide to Gov. Jim Doyle; Larry Nelson, former Waukesha mayor, current County Board supervisor and delegate to Democratic National Convention; Jason Patzfahl, liberal blogger and founding member of the Progressive 28th Political Action Committee; Jeffrey Perzan , attorney and party activist; Colin Plese, Shorewood School Board member; John Pokrandt, candidate for 13th State Assembly District; Steven Potter, communications aide, state Democratic Party; Jason Rae, Democratic National Committee member; Aaron Robertson, party activist; Chris Rockwood, candidate for 14th State Assembly District; Kristopher Rowe, party activist; Keith Schmitz, member, State Democratic Platform Committee and founding member, Grassroots North Shore; Richard Schwalb, party activist; Erin Sievert, chairwoman, Jefferson County Democrats; Kathleen Slamka, party activist; Eilene Stevens, party activist; Mike Tate, chair , Democratic Party of Wisconsin; Melissa Ugland, business owner and party activist; Sarah Wagner, community activist for Wisconsin Jobs Now; Jamie Wall, candidate for 8th Congressional District; Jim Ward, candidate, 28th State Senate District; Jane Witt, chair of Racine County Democrats; and Graeme Zielinski, communications director, Wisconsin Democratic Party.

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