Lower expectations. That’s the mantra typically chanted by campaign strategists as they prepare their candidates for political debates and do their best to control public expectations for debate performance. The strategy being that setting the bar low increases a candidate’s chances of winning praise on debate night. For this Wednesday’s presidential debate, the first of three, the Obama campaign is certainly toeing the line as Senior Advisor to the President, David Plouffe, remarked in an NBC interview, “We have expected all along that Gov. Romney will have a good night. He has prepared more than any candidate in history. And he has shown himself to be a very, very good debater through the years.”
On the Republican side, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan too, has touted the opposition’s sharp debate skills. However, New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie appears to have missed the memo. On yesterday’s Meet the Press, he flaunted the upcoming debate as a “restart” of the Romney campaign.
How much do expectations influence public perception of a candidate’s debate performance? Why would Governor Christie say anything that might raise expectations for Mitt Romney’s presentation?
Doyle McManus, Washington Columnist, covering national and international politics, Los Angeles Times