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How do we know Scott Brown won the debate last night?

How do we know Scott Brown won the debate last night?

There is no question that Scott Brown won the debate last night.

It wasn’t a knock out.  As Howie Carr correctly notes, a man can’t get away with hitting a woman too hard in a debate:

When he was pummeling her on the asbestos litigation, and her $225,000 payday, and on the $700,000 she and her husband make from Harvard, she seemed on the verge of losing it. But Scott didn’t go for the knockout — that never works in a debate for a guy. Just ask Rick Lazio.

I noticed some Twitter chatter along those lines, about how aggressive Brown was, but I didn’t save the tweets. But they were there.

So how do we know Brown won?

Michael Graham noted the lack of claim from the Warren media cheerleading section that Brown lost:

If Brown had done poorly, the Boston media would have hammered him on it. Sometimes media silence speaks volumes.

Even Michael Tomasky had to admit Brown won, although he says “narrowly.”

If Michael Tomasky gives Scott Brown a “narrow” win, you know Brown hit it out of the park.

Update: Rob Eno of Red Mass Group has a synopsis of media coverage confirming that it is hard to spin the debate as going well for Warren:

The Boston Herald’s Peter Gelzinis: “Personally, I think the one subject Warren left on the table unanswered was Brown’s charges about the role she played as a lawyer for Travelers Insurance.” (Peter Gelzinis, Op-Ed, “Liz Warren’s Jabs Get Under Scott Brown’s Skin, The Boston Herald, 9/21/12)
WGBH’s Adam Reilly: Warren’s Response On Asbestos Exchange Was “Strangely Weak.” “Toward the debate’s end, he ripped Warren for her role helping Travelers Insurance limit payouts to asbestos victims. It’s a complicated issue, and Brown didn’t explain it as well as he might have. But Warren’s response – which included asserting that she’s not a ‘career politician’ – was strangely weak. Of all Brown’s attacks, this one was most effective.” (Adam Reilly, “Analysis: Scoring The First Brown-Warren Debate,” WGBH, 9/20/12)

The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky: “First, I think the most memorable moment of the evening came toward the end when Brown attacked Warren for supposedly representing Travelers Insurance Co. against asbesos victims.” (Michael Tomasky, “The Brown-Warren Debate,” The Daily Beast, 9/21/12)

The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi: “He scored some points at the end, when he brought up Warren’s representation of an insurance company against worker claims of asbestos poisoning: ‘She didn’t fight for the victims,’ he declared.” (Joan Vennochi, Op-Ed, “A Night Of Smirks And Verbal Jabs,” The Boston Globe, 9/21/12)

The Boston Globe’s Tom Keane: “And once the questioning left economics – clearly Warren’s strong suit – she floundered, falling back on her own rehearsed lines (e.g., I’m not a professional politician) and pointedly avoiding Brown’s often sharp attacks on her high salary and work on asbestos.” (Tom Keane, Op-Ed, “Brown Had A Shaky Start But Finished Strong,” The Boston Globe, 9/21/12)

WFXT’s Cosmo Macero: “Something people haven’t been talking about in a while, he really brought back into the fore here with the Travelers asbestos case. I think that’s going to have a lasting impact. I think you’ll see that, perhaps in ads and campaign messaging going forward. I thought that was an important moment for him also.” (WFXT-TV, 9/20/12)


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Yes, being praised with faint damns is a good sign — and a good omen that the rest of the debate season is going to be a good one for independent conservatives.

“If Michael Tomasky gives Scott Brown a “narrow” win, you know Brown hit it out of the park.”

True. Because Tomasky is a barking mad, frothing-at-the-mouth moonbat who happens to write for the Beastly Day.

Howie Carr also brings up another good point – I’ve spoken to a few dedicated Dems I know in MA, and one expressed regret that Warren was forced upon the party, in that person’s words. Early on, all the energy and money from local and national sources was predominantly pushed towards Warren. It makes you wonder how cooled off some of them may be come election day. Both Warren and Obama may not “inspire” many to actually get out to do the deed that day.

A weekly media maven seems to call it a toss-up–but acknowledges that an ex-consultant to asbestos insurers remains exposed:

I am sadly not persuaded. Early this month, a Brown victory was trading at 65 cents on the dollar at Intrade; now it is down to 43 cents on the dollar. Markets are a lot smarter than Michael Tomasky. (Oh hell, my cat is a lot smarter than Tomasky.) Warren is going to get elected. Harvard’s gain, the country’s loss.

    Intrade in that particular race has tended to follow the polls. (That’s my impression though I haven’t kept a daily record.) Since the polls in the MA state race have been sparse especially well before the election, volume has been light, spreads have been wide, and the contract has been volatile.

    If the polls shift with the debate outcome, Intrade will probably shift with the polls.

    Afaic the race remains too close to call. The blue-state factor is in Warren’s favor, obviously.

    The energy of onservative activists got Brown elected in 2010. From a nonideological horse-race perspective, Brown’s big bet has been to distance himself from them and emphasize his centrism. Whether that maneuver works or backfires may well make the difference.

    Win or lose, the Brown campaign offers ideas about how to run against victimologists.

    I reluctantly agree with sjostrom. I live in Central Mass, where virtually everyone lives conservative values but votes D because of indoctrination/brainwashing. I’m shocked by the huge number of Warren yard signs in my area, but more shocked that I know these people and I know they voted for Brown last time. I fear he really pissed off the tea party vote in this state.

      The most recent (Sept. 6-13) poll of likely voters by Western New England University gave Warren a 6% lead statewide but Brown a 12% lead in Central MA.

      Casey in reply to Roz. | September 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      That doesn’t make one damned bit of sense. Tea Partiers are upset at Brown, so they’re going to vote for someone who makes Hillary look like Goldwater?

    Estragon in reply to sjostrom. | September 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Markets are predictive in direct proportion to the volume. InTrade has far lower volume this year than in past elections. Those who attempt to make forecasts based on this far more limited input will invariably be wrong.

Thanks for the uplift in an otherwise dismal world.

Looking forward to the first Romney/O’bammy debate and hope for a similar performance. After all, the facts are all on Romney’s side.

I do have a sense that the public is beginning to realize that the path that we are on is just plain wrong…

It’s a good point about not going after a woman candidate too hard in a debate. In addition to Lazio (not a great candidate in the first place), one might remember the debate between challenger Ann Richards (D) and Clayton Williams (R) for Texas Governor in 1991. Williams, also not a great candidate, tried several times to tee off on Richards. The latter, no dummy, left claw marks on him as she won the election.

The public expects civility in its candidates in the public appearances for the job. You can get away being a jerk like Rahm Emanuel in private, but if you behave like a jerk in public it will cost you. As it turns out, the public has a lower tolerance for jerk-like behavior in men when they are running against a woman for political office. Call it what you will but there it is.

I’m betting Brown knows where the line is and knows to stay comfortably on the proper side of it.

    Ragspierre in reply to stevewhitemd. | September 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Having daughters may have taught Brown a thing or two, as well.

    Plus, he is (apparently) a rather decent man. Not my idea of a great candidate, but I view that from a Texas POV.

“If Michael Tomasky gives Scott Brown a ‘narrow’ win, you know Brown hit it out of the park.” Is this the sort of rigorous analysis you teach to your students? Geez, I’m embarrassed to be a Cornell alumnus! See Payne and Domke at WBUR for something serious.

    Estragon in reply to Avo. | September 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Tomasky is a lying leftist shill who hasn’t uttered a true word intentionally in years.

    turfmann in reply to Avo. | September 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    You needn’t look to the Professor’s comment to be embarrassed about being a Cornell grad (which would be insufficient reason in any case) you need only look at your own comment.

    Or you could just cast your gaze upon Keith Olbermann. That’s enough to set fire to your sheepskin right there.

    Then again, Elizabeth Warren’s performance as lawyer is an embarrassment to Cornell, her professorship an embarrassment to the Professor’s alma matter and her residence in the Commonwealth an embarrassment to the rest of us here.

The bottom line: Brown didn’t lose. Lizzie Warren looked peevish and her much-touted intelligence was nowhere to be seen.

This is going to be an interesting case study going into the three Presidential debates. One would assume the same logic will apply. The media will never tout Romney winning any of the debates, but should he obviously be the winner, expect the media to just move on to other “news”, in an attitude of “move along… nothing to see here.”

I’m an unaffiliated voter in MA, and I watched the debate last night. All of the personal gibes aside, the message that I walked away with was “If you want someone who will look at each issue and vote and decide what’s better for MA and the rest of the country, vote for Brown. If you’re afraid of the Democrats losing control of the senate, vote for Warren.” I don’t whether that message is a win for Brown or a win for Warren.

I have to confess I’ve been expecting Romney to go “all Newt” on Obama, and have been wondering what he’s waiting for.

Is he going to wait until just before, or during, the first debate?