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3Qs: Who won the first debate?

Alan Schroeder, a professor in the School of Journalism in the College of Arts, Media and Design and one of the nation’s foremost experts on presidential debates, offers an analysis of the first of three match-ups between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.

Who do you think won this debate? Why?

Mitt Romney won because the president did not come to the debate prepared to fight. Barack Obama missed opportunity after opportunity, while Romney was more focused and forceful in his delivery.

How might this debate shift the nation’s political dialogue going forward during the presidential campaign?

Political journalists now have a comeback story on their hands, which is something they love. The spotlight will shift from Romney and his campaign woes to Obama and his need for improvement. Already the coverage is depicting Romney as the golden boy of presidential debates.

What questions remain for the coming debates? What more must each candidate do to make his case to the American public?

The next debate, in the town hall format, involves both international and domestic issues, which will expand the conversation to topics that did not get discussed in Wednesday’s opener.  Obama will need to draw a much sharper contrast with his opponent.  Romney will need to use the town hall setting to show that he cares about average voters — something he has had difficulty with in the past.