The Morning After the Night Before

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Brooklynites were relieved at President Obama’s showing in last night’s presidential debate. But many were still frustrated by the “style over substance” approach of both candidates and cited the exchange about Libya as a particularly tense moment.

With 80% of Brooklyn voters opting for Obama in 2008, no one is pretending that this Democratic borough, in a Democratic state, reflects America’s response as a whole. But conversations with Brooklynites on their way to work this morning, showed that support for Obama still came with its fair share of criticism and disappointment.

After his lackluster first debate in Denver, Ellen Shaw was pleased that Obama was on his mark this time. But her relief was overshadowed by a strong feeling that both candidates lacked substance. Her biggest complaint was with a skewed political system that puts a handful of swing states at its center and what she said was her “frustration that our political process is down to who’s more charismatic on TV.”

Aaron Steinberg, who was walking his two dogs around Borough Hall agreed with Shaw on the showmanship over substance point. In fact, he went even further adding that he felt the debate was so rehearsed “it was like a Broadway play.”

Steinberg thought Obama had the edge, but admitted that neither candidate particularly inspired him, referring to Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, as the “evil of two lessers.”

He was especially critical of the President for not directly answering Romney’s questions about Libya, and the failure to protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens from a mob in Benghazi. “When he said he’d take responsibility, what does that mean?” asked Steinberg.

Passersby consistently said that the exchange about Libya was particularly nerve-wracking. Brian Horne, who had been anxious before the debate, credited Obama with doing a “good job”, and adding that he “came off strong.” He described the exchange about Libya as a particularly tense moment, but thought Obama defended well, and came across like he really cared.

But although Brooklyn might give its approval to the Democrats, grudging or otherwise, Horne warns Democrats against getting too ahead of themselves, adding that “the rest of the country is a whole different matter.”

And last night’s snap polls bear this out. Some assessed registered voters and others polled undecided voters, while the PPP Poll focused on the swing state of Colorado, but they all gave Obama’s performance a narrow edge.

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