Who Won the Debate? Political Insiders Agree It Was Romney
In Patch's instant survey of activists and leaders from both parties, the consensus is that Republican challenger Mitt Romney came out on top in Wednesday's debate against President Barack Obama.
Wisconsin's Republican political insiders agree with what national political pundits were saying Thursday morning – that GOP challenger Mitt Romney was the clear winner in his first presidential debate with President Barack Obama.
That's not exactly surprising.
What is somewhat surprising is that the Democratic insiders who responded to Patch's flash survey on the debate – including elected officials, party leaders and key influencers in the party – gave lukewarm marks to Obama for his performance.
When Wednesday'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 regularly polled between now and the November election.
Of the 51 influential Republicans who responded, 82 percent said Romney won by a wide margin, while 18 percent said he took the debate by a slim margin. None of the Republicans called it a tie, and none said Obama had won.
Of the 24 Democrats who responded, 14 percent said Obama won by a wide margin; 38 percent said he won by a slim margin; and 33 percent called it a tie.
The most surprising number? One-fourth of these hard-core Democrats said Romney had won by a slim margin.
As one Democratic insider said: "Obama can only get better next time."
And here's another interesting number: More than half of the Republicans Patch surveyed responded to our questionnaire within hours of the debate; only 38 percent of the Democrats did so.
Another stark contrast between the two parties is that 92 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement that Romney's performance in the debate makes it more likely that he will win Wisconsin in November.
Only about one-third of Democratic respondents agreed that Obama's performance in the debate would make it more likely he will win Wisconsin in November.
Several of the Democrats said that while Obama may have lost on style points, Romney fell short in substance and in stating the facts.
"The president gave Romney enough rope to flip-flop his way through the debate," said on insider. "It may look great on the surface, but this will pose a huge problem for Romney as he contradicted himself on many stances."
Still, Republican insiders were buoyant over how Romney performed and said the debate will change the direction of the campaign.
"Romney was decisive and presidential," said one influencer. "This is what a real leader looks like."
Said another: "Romney was bright, clear and lucid next to his opponent, who appeared to be unfocused and disconnected. Obama used so many words but said so little."
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.
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.