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What to watch for in tonight's debate: A more forceful Obama

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 10:02 a.m. MDT

Oct. 2012, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver. Tonight's debate the candidates have focused more on style than on the content they'll be speaking on. (Rick Wilking, Associated Press Photo/Pool) Oct. 2012, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver. Tonight's debate the candidates have focused more on style than on the content they'll be speaking on. (Rick Wilking, Associated Press Photo/Pool)

Our take: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have been coached on their style rather than substance for tonight debate, according to Alex Altman from Time. Will their style sway voters more than their substance? Altman explains what each candidate is up against:

"Before Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debated in Denver, some very smart political scientists tried to dampen the overheated expectations game with a dose of historical context. Debates, they argued, usually don't matter that much. They loom large in our recollection of past races because they offer a snapshot of a candidate’s strength or fecklessness, but they are rarely decisive. Many pundits trumpeted this perspective. Then Romney beat Obama in Denver and took off in the polls, turning a race that seemed like Obama’s to lose into a nail-biter with three weeks to go. What happened?

Two things: Romney exceeded expectations, and the media –– abetted by panicky liberals –– fashioned a narrative that Obama's performance was worse than it actually was. After a brief horse race boost, Romney has settled back into a virtual tie with the President, according to RealClearPolitics' polling averages. That's exactly the same position the two candidates were in on Labor Day, before Obama received a post-convention bump of his own. The debate didn’t dramatically alter the race; it restored its equilibrium."

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