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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, Florida, 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.

Anna Bucciarelli November 05, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Oops! Forgot to mention you Brian ... I thoroughly enjoyed all of your lessons re: environment but, alas, it's a bit much for me at this stage in life. I applaud your enthusiasm, however. Go Vote!
Anna Bucciarelli November 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Brian ... mixed you up with Quasi ... he did not speak so much about environment, just ridiculed all who disagreed with him ... I enjoyed all of you and I like to think I may have learned a bit (especially from Paul and Amber about >:/;) and all the rest!). GO VOTE and quit this post ... all that is to be said has been said.
Vincent DiRico November 05, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Natural gas and Mitt-mentum, America's future, embrace it!
paul surette November 05, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Thank you Anna, for the kind words. It's appreciated :>)
Brian November 05, 2012 at 10:27 PM
VD, first you were all MITT drill baby drill and BIG OIL. Then you were MITTOIL and fossil fuel coal. Now you are telling me your solution is MITT and dirty Natural Gas. You do sound every day more and more like MITTOIL; all over the map on issues. MITTOIL: On oil and gas permits on public lands "I'll double them" - 10/3/12 First Presidental Debate "by the way, I like coal" - First Presidential Debate "I'll fight for oil, coal and natural gas" - 10/16/12 second Presidential Debate Why would America and I "embrace" your/MITTOIL "now" solution of NG. Fracking for natural gas damages landscapes, pollutes water and air sources, and can have serious health consequences on local communities. Some of the many problems associated with inadequate safeguards in natural gas development include -water contamination from substandard drill casings -water treatment facilities that are unable to process dirty water from drilling operations -harmful air emissions that pollute communities surrounding drilling operations, compressor stations and pipelines -lack of environmental assessments, monitoring and regulatory enforcement to gauge damages to landscapes and wildlife -few safeguards to protect surrounding communities from accidents and leaks You and MITTOIL can keep your dirty fossil fuels. Invest in clean renewable energy resources!
Brian November 05, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Looks like your employer VD is looking to help a great renewable green energy resource. Imagine that. http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/smart_grid/article/wind_power.html Time to get on board or you will be left behind.
kate lipton November 06, 2012 at 12:02 AM
VD -I don't know where you are coming up with the pile of misquotes. However, ask yourself this: Bill Clinton is everywhere campaigning for Barack Obama. Where the hell is George W. Bush? Doesn't that just go to show that the Republican Party is a party in crisis.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 12:29 AM
"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road -- the one less traveled by -- offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth." - Rachel Carson
Vincent DiRico November 06, 2012 at 12:40 AM
If you recall all the way back to our first duel; and I don't expect you to be able to do that ;) I clearly stated "natural gas is the elephant in the room" and stated nothing but that since. So reading comprehension is key. May the Mitt-mentum be with you! :o
Vincent DiRico November 06, 2012 at 12:42 AM
notice the last year noted was 2010? that is because wind is on the shelf :o due to the abundance and low cost of natural gas! Mitt-mentum continues!
Vincent DiRico November 06, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Mr 0 and Ms Cowley lied during the second debate, this is video that did not air, conducted on 9/12/2012 Mitt-mentum! http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50134495n&tag=mg;60minutes KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack? OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other. KROFT: It’s been described as a mob action, but there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades, that doesn’t sound like your normal demonstration. OBAMA: As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened, I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But your right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is there are folks involved in this. Who were looking to target Americans from the start. So we’re gonna make sure that our first priority is to get our folks out safe, make sure our embassies are secured around the world and then we are going to go after those folks who carried this out.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I'm sorry. Is 2012 recent enough for you? http://sustainablyspeaking.com/ IBM addressing the market for wind as a renewable energy resource. Sorry VD, wrong......again.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 02:11 AM
MITTOIL and his 20th century dirty fossil fuels continues.......... On oil and gas permits on public lands "I'll double them" - 10/3/12 First Presidental Debate "by the way, I like coal" - First Presidential Debate "I'll fight for oil, coal and natural gas" - 10/16/12 second Presidential Debate
Vincent DiRico November 06, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Wow Mitt-mentum crushes you. Natural gas is the elephant in the room, both Mitt and Mr 0 said it, argue that and there is no hope. It will be Mitt-mentum carrying Mitt to deliver on the natural gas plan and energy independence!
Brian November 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM
You and MITTOIL want dirty fossil fuels that cause indestructible damage to our health and environment. I don't. I want to invest in clean alternative energy resources. And although I do not agree with the President's stance on NG, overall the President is fairly close to the need to move towards more sustainable energy choices. We should demand a higher standard for green energy than the President but he has many more constituencies to deal with. For the moment he keeps natural gas and nuclear energy in his portfolio of transitional energies on the way to greener choices. The President has an emphasis on improving energy efficiency. This is a very stark difference than MITTOIL.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Until now, the discussion of climate change during this election brought to mind the adage that the most important step in solving a problem is to simply admit that it exists. Hurricane Sandy has made the problem impossible to ignore, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will likely not be the only to base his vote next week on which candidate is best qualified to solve it. “This week’s devastation,” he wrote today, “should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.” The connection between climate change and catastrophes might still be dismissed by ignorance, but it’s painfully obvious to scientists, to insurance companies, increasingly, to the American people, and to those on the Jersey Shore. The frightening consequences that scientists have warned us about for decades are already here. We can see our world is changing before our eyes — and it’s not pretty. Along with destruction and incalculable misery, Sandy has left an urgent question in its wake: How can we justify delaying action to stop the pollution that’s disrupting our climate? How many more lost lives and billions of dollars will it take to unite our leaders behind clean-energy solutions that we already have within our grasp? We desperately need action, but instead we’ve had silence.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Let’s be honest: Although energy issues have been at the forefront in this election, President Obama missed a series of opportunities to talk about climate directly in the debates. It’s particularly unfortunate because this president has done more about climate disruption in the past four years than all his predecessors combined. His administration has cleaned up coal emissions, helped increase solar production by a factor of five, doubled our production of wind (last month, all of the new electrical energy added to the U.S. grid came from wind and solar— 433 megawatts’ worth, and not a single watt of power from coal or gas), and set strong new vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. That’s a record to be proud of, not reticent about. It’s a record to build on, not bury deep on a campaign website. It’s also in distinct contrast to Mitt Romney, who has backpedaled so fast on climate change he could be a new source of energy. Years ago, Romney at least claimed to take climate destabilization seriously; now it’s a punchline. He’s packed his campaign full of cronies and lobbyists from coal and oil. He’s joined in his silence by virtually the entire Republican establishment, which has painted itself into a shameful and absurd ideological corner for fear of angering its powerful fossil-fuel donors.
Brian November 06, 2012 at 03:08 AM
The wrath of the Koch brothers, however, is no match for the fury of Mother Nature. So when it’s time tomorrow to choose those who will determine how our nation responds the climate crisis, Hurricane Sandy’s question should be on our minds. It’s never been clearer why we need to choose leaders who won’t place the interests of fossil-fuel corporations and oil billionaires before the well-being of the planet that every one of us depends on.
Leonardo DaVinci November 06, 2012 at 12:44 PM
And Vincent you still can't or won't admit that Obama cannot talk about covert CIA operation there and around the world. If you understand military strategy and secrecy you would learn to button on this subject because what you eventually find out is that the CIA was in charge not the State House. If you don't want to give Obama credit for finding Bin Laden because it had very little to do with him, because it was a military operation this also falls into the same category. You read into things what you want, so nothing is sacred and nothing has changed. You will find out the truth soon, I hope. Still good job and effort on the part of your guy. I respect that!
Leonardo DaVinci November 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Nice sentiments Anna, well said!
Vincent DiRico November 06, 2012 at 12:53 PM
It is never correct to lie to the American people. Mitt-mentum is taking care of that NOW!
paul surette November 06, 2012 at 01:03 PM
To Mr. DaVinci.....I'm sorry, but someone is accountable for the travesty in Libya! Given the fact that we have embassies in the Middle East, it's a no-brainer that EXTRA security should be prudence. Translation: Given the current climate there, and everywhere else, American citizens are potential targets, so we need to buck up and take care of our own. An embassy is owned by THAT entity which dwells in it....that's the bottom line! If you tread on my soil, obviously I would defend it. 4 senseless deaths as far as I'm concerned!
paul surette November 06, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Fred, I personally look forward to watching Obama's concession speech on the networks! Obama is One & Done!
paul surette November 06, 2012 at 01:27 PM
LOL if it's on youtube, it must be true...Quasi, you need to take your medication!
Anna Bucciarelli November 06, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Paul ... maybe I will someday get all these symbols right? :>)
Leonardo DaVinci November 07, 2012 at 12:34 PM
When it comes to murder, in war or in civilian life, both seem senseless, I agree. But more time and facts are necessary to make proper determinations. Reading between the lines is difficult when blurred inconclusive facts are used as weapons to make points in a desperate political election. We do not know enough information to make blatant accusations about happenings in war torn areas of the world. I have contended since this story came out, that it should not have been used as an election ploy because lives overseas are still in danger especially in societies where bombings, killings and American deaths still are an enormous concern for us. It's about protecting lives isn't it? In my opinion, and I feel very positive, that this is more a form of political sensationalism and gaining a political edge than a search for truth or the sincere protection of American lives. It took us months and years before we found out all the facts about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We are too quick to blame, because it is not that we have all the facts necessary, but political stategists want to sieze the opportunity of a horrible and very emotional event to take political advantage of what occured. We should be more concerned with absolute truth, which of course we don't have yet and maybe never will. Political campaigns sometimes throw caution to the wind, for personal gain and selfish reasons not real ones. This event should have been left alone.
Stiv November 07, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I was right. Obama DID win the last debate, as the election results demonstrated.
Stiv November 07, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Vinnie- Sorry, but you do not get your own 'special' math. The predictions, other than Rasmussen, did not lie. Rasmussen was exposed for the biased, right-leaning polling firm that it is.
Chris Caesar February 05, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Yes, of course racist comments like that are not tolerated on Patch or most news websites.
Dan Byer February 05, 2013 at 09:45 PM
It was a ridiculous statement 3 months ago and it's still ridiculous today. No need to dredge up old garbage like this.

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