Small business owners in each of the nine most closely contested swing states shared their thoughts with us immediately following the debate, and echoing the consensus among political pundits, most awarded victory to the Republican challenger.
Six of the nine commentators said Romney won the debate; only one of them calling it even a close contest. The remaining three business owners said the candidates tied. Meanwhile, Obama received a great deal of criticism for his lack of engagement and occasionally vague responses, and Jim Lehrer, the moderator, took plenty of heat for losing control of the debate.
Heading into the night, our panel consisted of one strong supporter of Obama, one strong supporter of Romney, one leaning toward Obama and one leaning toward Romney. The other five were undecided — however, shortly after the debate, two of them said they were now leaning toward Romney.
• Christopher Hytry Derrington - Wisconsin
CEO of Hyder Industries in Two Rivers
Immediate reaction to the debate: “Romney scored big on style. Obama didn’t bomb, but Romney appeared stronger. And style is what this is about, since I doubt that anyone will change their mind based on the lack of detailed content presented tonight. Romney seem more confident that businesses will be move forward after the election and starting making growth decisions again, instead of sitting on the side lines.”
Biggest surprise: “Obama seemed tired and stared down at his podium too much. Maybe he was attempting to act presidential, but appeared to be on the defensive most of the debate.”
Who won the debate? Romney, handily
• Jessica Hadler Baines — Florida
President of American Business Group Business Brokers in Orlando
Immediate reactions to the debate: “My clients have been greatly concerned with the direction our country has been taking. Republican, Democrat, and Independent, there has been so much confusion among small business owners as to the real plan each candidate has in solving our problems. They are tired about the spin from PACs and I simply do not know how owners will react to tonight’s debates. Which clear answers have been addressed? That, I cannot answer.”
Biggest surprise: “Obama. I was raised by a Democratic mother and Republican father, so imagine my world as a youth. As an Independent, I felt that President Obama was much more on the offensive tonight. Of course, Gov. Romney ran four years ago, but he appeared to be fresh and able to back up his claims this time around. Mitt was able to overcome the stereotype that he is a machine or robot; no stumbling, and he skillfully acknowledged his efforts to work with Democrats in Massachusetts.”
Who won the debate? Romney, handily.