Did Obama Get The Job Done At Hofstra? Dems Say ‘Resoundingly Yes’

After Denver, President Obama went into Tuesday night’s town hall debate at Hofstra University with a tall order: He had to win back independents and women who gave Mitt Romney a second look after the first debate and he had to fire up a demoralized Democratic base.

Did he do it?

Among Democratic strategists, the consensus from last night’s debate is that he did. And the cherry on top: Romney stumbled.

It was crucial for Obama to show strength and he delivered, Democrats told TPM. At this stage in the race, you don’t win undecided voters with new information but by displaying confidence in what you will do and what you have done.

The Republican view of Obama’s debate performance is less rosy, but still largely positive for fans of the president. Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told TPM that Obama “got more out of” the debate than Romney because the president’s performance fired up his base, which was feeling low following the Denver debate. But O’Connell said it’s not clear yet whether the debate accomplished the Democrats’ second goal of blunting Mitt-mentum.

“Looking at [post-debate polling], they all felt that Romney did better on things like economy, the deficit and strong leadership,” he said. “Those issues right there — I know it’s hard to pull out of flash polls and focus groups — show this debate might not have dented Romney’s momentum to the extent that most of those on the left think.”

O’Connell said the talk about women’s issues might play both ways. While Romney made a misstep with his “women full of binders” line, O’Connell said, he also may have appealed to them with his focus on the economy. Suburban women — who pundits said were the focus of the debate for both candidates — could be open to Romney’s continued focus on the economy when women’s issues come up.

“I definitely think the president did well by talking about the Ledbetter Act,” he said. “The blue collar suburban mom, we’re still seeing, yes they’re concerned about equal pay, but they’re concerned about pay in general.”

Pay close attention to swing state polls in coming says, O’Connell said, to see if the debate moves the needle among persuadable voters.

Read more from Pema Levy & Evan McMorris-Santoro at TPM 

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Analysis & Political Strategy