No. of Recommendations: 1
This was the case in the first Bush-Gore debate. In that case, the Democrats really screwed up because they simply couldn't help themselves but to proclaim loudly and often how Bush was the stupidest person alive and Gore the smartest man ever. I remember about a day before the debate, Paul Begala seemed to realize that they needed to slam on the brakes and made a few comments complimenting Bush, but it was too late. At that point, all Bush had to do was not fall down and he wins the debate. As far as I recall, that is where the expectations game shifted into high gear, because the Democrats misplayed it so much.

Bush performed just OK. But came out the winner. Not just because he didn't fall on his face, but because Gore came across as such an annoying, arrogant ass. It was so bad, even SNL ripped him in a sketch. It was all in the non-verbal cues (do the excessive sighs count as verbal)? Gore than turned one debate loss into three, and that may have been decisive (anything could be, in an election won by a few hundred votes in one state). In debate two, Gore showed up on sedatives, and Bush carried the day. In debate three, Gore came out like a gladiator, and mostly just looked bizarre for changing personalities every time he showed up.
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