First debate down! We're officially in election season and American voters are all ears as both President Obama and Republican opponent Mitt Romney do everything they can to move ahead in the race for commander in chief.
As soon as the debate was over, the consensus from both voters and analysts was pretty clear: Romney came out swinging and won by a landslide. A CNN poll taken after the event found that 67% of people thought Romney won.
"A week ago, people were saying this was over. We've got a horse race," said CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen. Gergen also called this debate Romney's best so far after the 22 the former governor of Massachusetts participated in during the GOP primary campaign.
Analysts also say Romney successfully challenged the president on some of the crucial issues voters are concerned about: the economy, taxes and health care. In the first of three debates leading up to the November election, voters were looking for some details from both candidates that they hadn't heard yet.
With undecided voters paying close attention, Romney finally revealed his plan for job growth and how he would spark the economy:
My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs. Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Crack down on China, if and when they cheat. Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world. We're far away from that now. Number four, get to us a balanced budget. Number five, champion small business. It's small business that creates the jobs in America, and over the last four years, small business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business because new business startups are down to a 30-year low.
As millions of Americans continue to struggle without work, or with lower incomes, unemployment and job growth are at the forefront of this election. Figures surrounding the employment situation could sway some undecided Americans when it comes to decision time in November. The unemployment rate has remained above 8% for 40 consecutive months now, and only two monthly job reports remain before the election. No sitting president has been re-elected with an unemployment rate above 7.2% since World War II.
So what should we expect from the September jobs report? Economists surveyed by CNNMoney expect the September jobs report to show employers added 110,000 jobs during the month, which is a slight improvement over the 96,000 jobs that were created in August. Yes, that would be an improvement, but the numbers are still way down and nowhere near the levels of a healthy economy. The unemployment rate in August fell to 8.1%, from 8.3% in July, according to the Labor Department. But that decline didn't signal any good news. The rate went down because more people gave up looking for work, and the government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching for a job. The proportion of the population that’s either working or looking for work fell to 63.5% which is the lowest level the labor force participation rate has reached in 31 years.
Some economists say the remaining job reports most likely won't sway any undecided voters, since no spectacular news is expected. On the other hand, voters may be swayed more by long-term plans presented by the candidates, regarding how they plan to boost the economy and get Americans back to work.
The two candidates will take part in the second presidential debate on Oct. 16 and will go head to head for the last time on Oct. 22. The only scheduled vice presidential debate is set for Oct. 11.