Following the first Presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney, the consensus seems to be that the Governor did a lot to improve his standing while the President seemed to fall flat on his performance. That being said, historically speaking, it appears that incumbent Presidents often fall prey to the first presidential debate and there are a few reasons why.


Report from USA Today:

It looks like President Obama is the latest to suffer what we’ve called “incumbents opening debate syndrome.”

The criticism of Obama’s performance against Mitt Romney puts him in the company of predecessors Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Like those presidents, Obama “fell victim Wednesday night to high expectations, a short fuse, and a hungry challenger,” writes Ron Fournier in National Journal.

For incumbents, first debates are rare exposure to face-to-face criticism; presidents often come in rusty, and that may well have have been the case with Obama.

The debate format also tends to elevate challengers, putting them on the same plane as sitting presidents.

There’s also the fact that many challengers, including Romney, prepare and perform well.

Presidents also have specific records to defend, not always an easy task in tough economic times; Obama found himself on the defensive throughout the evening in Denver.

In past elections, the debate problems of Carter and the elder Bush played roles in their ultimate defeats.

Reagan and the younger Bush, meanwhile, rallied with stronger performances in subsequent debates, and won re-election.

What was your takeaway? Was President Obama unprepared or was Governor Romney simply ready to bring it?

Predictions for the next debate? Clearly the President will be working hard to ensure his next performance is clean, crisp and more on par with his soaring campaign speeches which fire up his supporters. Romney has a high bar and he’ll need to work just as hard to keep up his delivery.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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