Posts Tagged ‘McCain’
After what seems like an eternity, this is the last weekend before Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to choose the 44th President of the United States. Sarah Palin falls foul to a Canadian comedian’s prank call as the French President, and Obama asks to be left alone by a camera crew that get too close while walking his daughter to a Halloween party. Every second is being scrutinized to see if it will effect the election.
Soon it will all be over. Yet the nomination process and Presidential campaign has allowed us to evaluate thecandidates, rather than just go on their past record. We have been able to judge them as who is the most statesman like, withthe bearing to be President. We may say that policies and issues are what matter, but with the financial crisis and recession, vision and ideology matter far more than policy promises that already seem out of date in 2008, let alone in 2009 when the President elect assumes office on a crisp cold January morning.
Russell Brand, who knows a thing or to about prank calls, called on America to vote for Barack Obama at the MTV video awards. The interest this election generates is as much a testament to the character of McCain and the charisma of Obama as it is to the end of the Bush Presidency. When it comes to youth culture the one thing that seems apparent is that the under 35 year olds are underrepresented in the states where people can vote early, though hopefully not often.
On average the polls have Obamaleading by 6.8%, withFox News at 3% and Gallup at 10%. When it comes to McCain’s home state of Arizona McCain leads by 3.5%, with the spread being from 1% to 4%. The Democrats starting to spend aggressively in that State has the kind of publicity money cannot buy – that a Presedential Candidate is in the margin of error of loosing his own state.
McCain has to hope that in the leaning/toss up states there is a margin of error of at least 3.5% for him to win the White House. That is not outside the realms of possibility, and as he joked at a foundation dinner it will be a long night for him to carry this off. The Bradley factor is mentioned, and that undecideds will break unevenly for McCain – though Democrats claim undecideds are 2% of the electorate while Republicans that the figure is 10%.
Right now we need to take deep breaths with anything reported – time to analyise anything will be short. This election is Obama’s to loose, as one chapter of American history closes and a new one begins. Hubris, whether for Obama’s camp or his supporters, is the real thing to fear; the vote needs to turn out. Numbers and not enthusiasm count.
The moderate Republican backs Obama; and states that one clear defining reason was the choice of Sarah Palin as Vice President; someone without the experience for the White House and the nature of the Republican negative personal campaign against Obama. Obama stood out as the transformational candidate needed for the next four years, with a plan for the economy:
I found that [McCain] was a little unsure of how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. Almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me.
I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She is a very distinguished person and a she is to be admired. But at the same time, now that we’ve had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she is ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made. …
I watched Mr. Obama… he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this, and picking a vice president that I think is ready to be president on day one. And also not just jumping in and changing every day but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well. [source]
By gaining the right of the party it is conceivable that McCain lost the moderates – the question is how many of them in the key battleground states?
My earlier predictions – back in March – was that the lead Obama had would start to fall from mid October onwards. The danger of that is that the opinion polls exaggerate Obama’s lead as well. It means the gap he has on McCain is not what it appears. Sure enough from the 13th to 19th October Obama’ lead has dropped from 8% to 5% (on average in the polls).
However, that matters only in so far as it impacts on the electoral college – that is the value of the states (by population roughly) given to the winning candidate with the total 270 getting you to the White House. According to RealClearPolitics Obama/Biden have 286 without taking the toss up seats into consideration; with only Colorado at 6% lead for Obama being the most marginal state of that 286 with 9 electoral votes. Take it away leaves room to spare at 277.
McCain would have to come back and take Virginia (13 votes) which is Obama’s with a 8.1% lead. Now I have said that the margin for error will be 3-6% nationally skewed in favour of Obama. Even allowing for the top end and evenly in all states that means McCain needs a 4% bounce back.
You have to consider this: that 286 count does not include Florida (27) and Ohio (20) which are too close to call. The good news for McCain is that Florida is moving away from Obama. Bad news is that Obama still leads by over 3.2%.
Here then is something for you to ponder. Some right wing Republicans were saying that they would stay at home as McCain was not the right sort of Republican. With Colin Powell supporting Obama this may give them cover to say that they need to support McCain. It may well be a testament to how far McCain pandered to them that Powell has endorsed Obama. Powell will shore up Obama’s already committed supporters – it may however not dragged anymore Republicans. It could be a warning shot across the bows that they will loss the White House for 4 years. Maybe even 8 years, to a transforming President. Which must sound like a liberal nightmare to them.
It will be interesting to see how the polls react. It gives Obama some cover from the lack of experience charge. It may however make the Republicans realise that loosing Michigan is the least of their problems when loosing Colorado means the jig is up in an every increasing long odds on McCain making a big enough come back.
His only hope is that the polls are seriously wrong. Or students do not vote. But when economists start doubting you then it may well be that the battle is all but lost till the rout at the ballot box. The odds are lengthening, McCain needs not just a bounce back but polls to be wrong, and people hiding their true intentions at the ballot box.
Two weeks and a day to go to find out.
WIll the prodigal son be welcomed back to the fold of the left? The maverick writer supports Obama:
McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president. And Palin is simply a disgrace.
I used to nod wisely when people said: “Let’s discuss issues rather than personalities.” It seemed so obvious that in politics an issue was an issue and a personality was a personality, and that the more one could separate the two, the more serious one was. After all, in a debate on serious issues, any mention of the opponent’s personality would be ad hominem at best and at worst would stoop as low as ad feminam.
At my old English boarding school, we had a sporting saying that one should “tackle the ball and not the man.” I carried on echoing this sort of unexamined nonsense for quite some time—in fact, until the New Hampshire primary of 1992, when it hit me very forcibly that the “personality” of one of the candidates was itself an “issue.” In later years, I had little cause to revise my view that Bill Clinton’s abysmal character was such as to be a “game changer” in itself, at least as important as his claim to be a “new Democrat.” To summarize what little I learned from all this: A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
On “the issues” in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their “debates” have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him.
I suppose it could be said, as Michael Gerson has alleged, that the Obama campaign’s choice of the word erratic to describe McCain is also an insinuation. But really, it’s only a euphemism. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear had to feel sorry for the old lion on his last outing and wish that he could be taken somewhere soothing and restful before the night was out. The train-wreck sentences, the whistlings in the pipes, the alarming and bewildered handhold phrases—”My friends”—to get him through the next 10 seconds. I haven’t felt such pity for anyone since the late Adm. James Stockdale humiliated himself as Ross Perot’s running mate. And I am sorry to have to say it, but Stockdale had also distinguished himself in America’s most disastrous and shameful war, and it didn’t qualify him then and it doesn’t qualify McCain now.
The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: “What does he take me for?” Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.
It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.
I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that “issue” I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity. Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience. With McCain, the “experience” is subject to sharply diminishing returns, as is the rest of him, and with Palin the very word itself is a sick joke. One only wishes that the election could be over now and a proper and dignified verdict rendered, so as to spare democracy and civility the degradation to which they look like being subjected in the remaining days of a low, dishonest campaign.
Staying up till 4 am to watch Senators Obama and McCain debate in a town hall setting may seem extreme. There was no need for coffee to get through this, the adrenalin being that one of these men will in January 2009 be making decisions that will impact not just the USA but the global community. The stakeholders in this are more then just the American voters.
As the mud slinging of the last few days suggested, McCain went for Obama’s record on everything from environment to taxation, and pointing out that he had been a rebel with a cause against the leaders of his party. That however gave Obama the cover to act like he was responding to McCain’s personal attacks – though he did so impassioned and matter of fact. McCain came out swinging, while Obama kept dancing timing jabs just right but looking to keep ahead on points.
Both candidates kept to the Queens bury rules of nothing below the waist. There was no mention of Bill Ayers or Charles Keating. If you kept your eye off the fists, you could see the policies that they were suggesting. Obama saying that energy was a top national security issue, not just environment. McCain not trusting federal government to be as effective as the private sector. People may moan that there were no specifics of how they would do these things. What they did not mention, especially in McCain’s up beat assessment of America, is that the global financial crisis may make it exceedingly difficult to effect real change.
Obama looked Presidential, standing straight looking people in the eye. He was focused on the significance of the question, and saying what he would do about it, though at times he kept referring to people as if they were separate from him, saying you most of you, explaining at one point that his wealth and health plan as a senator gave them a difference in quality of life that should be available to all when it came to to coverage and opportunity. McCain was more trying to come across as one of the people, constantly saying my friends, shaking the petty officer’s hand thanking him for serving his country. McCain’s movement while answering questions seemed like he did not know what angle he should be facing the questioner or the hall. If Obama’s movement was panther like, McCain’s was like a wound up toy.
That difference came across especially in the manner in which they listened to the other respond. Obama sitting on his chair, listening – confident while engaged. McCain in contrast was constantly moving, fidgeting, ready to keep going, writing things down on the note pad. At one point when asked to list priorities on health, energy and education McCain wrote them down. This body language contrast made Obamam look magisterial while McCain looked agitated. At one point, when pointing out that he had not supported Bush’s environmental plan, he indicated that the person who had by pointing to Obama and saying “That one”.
Earmarks was the one thing that McCain came back to again and again. However, $18 billion of government spending seems insignificant when you consider that Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae and the current bail out are about $1.5 trillion. McCain should have been locked in a room with economic and financial ad visors for 48 hours and use this debate as a chance to outline an economic policy. He missed that opportunity – though the $3 million dollar projector earmarked that Obama had supported (though not voted as it never went that far) for the Adler Planetarium to replace their whole system, which was beyond repair being 40 years old.
There were many jabs that Obama could have given, but perhaps like Ali watching a prize fighter already
falling it may have seemed undignified. McCain kept linking himself to Regan, perhaps hoping that association would appeal to former Regan Democrats. However, just like being in the same room as a former terrorist does not make you one, knowing former Presidents does not make you one either.
Overall this seemed a more clear win for Obama then the last debate – the assured body language in the town hall format gace him a clear edge over McCain. He also managed to come across older then he is – in a positive way, while McCain was pacing. Just listening to what they said the result would be closer. McCain went on the attack, and voters looking for reasons not to support Obama and trust an experienced politician wanting change may well still go for McCain. The problem is that undecideds are becoming less and less as polling day draws – meaning that people changing their minds will be a crucial factor come election day. On a score system I would give Obama 3.5/5 and McCain 2.75/5 – McCain needed to offer a vision not just an assured competence based on experience to win this debate, while Obama had to look like he was ready. Instead McCain looked like someone that knows they are failing a job interview and falls back on their CV to try and turn it around rather than selling themselves as a person.
|Writer||Verdict||McCain score||Obama score|
|Moe Lane, RedState||“McCain got some good shots in with Fannie/Freddie, Obama got a good moment or two betraying the progressives over nuclear power, offshore drilling, and Israel. I’ll give the closing statement to McCain, but Obama humanises amazingly when he’s talking about his wife. No insanely bad howlers this go-round. This was, in fact, kind of boring all around.”||***||***|
|Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic||This debate was “devastating and possibly electorally fatal” for John McCain – a “wipe-out”. The Democratic candidate came out on top on substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority. Mr McCain appeared “a little out of it”.||*||*****|
|Hugh Hewitt, Townhall||Mr McCain made up a lot of ground in this debate. He was strong on two of his most important points – taxes and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Obama appeared cautious and evidently inexperienced. The Republican finished stronger, while Mr Obama “flailed about ineffectively”.||*****||*|
|Jim Geraghty, National Review blog||“Generally dull… and a bunch of answers that were very predictable to those of us who have been following this race. Because he’s trailing, we needed to see something different from McCain tonight. It wasn’t a bad night for him, and most of his answers were fine. But there wasn’t anything that any of us are going to remember in a couple of days.”||**||**|
|Jennifer Rubin, Pajamas Media||“Fireworks there were not. The debate lagged and dragged and at times was downright dull. The most decisive moment on national security occurred at the end where McCain bonded with a chief petty officer questioner and pledged to support Israel in defending itself against a nuclear-armed Iran.” But Mr McCain did himself some good in the debate. The “polished orator” Barack Obama, meanwhile, “fumbled” an easy final question.||****||**|
|Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo||“A marginal victory for Obama on points,” says Josh Marshall, but a “substantial” one in terms of the overall race. “McCain did fine. I think his supporters will think he put in a solid performance. But the bottom line is that right now McCain is losing. He has to shake things up. But he didn’t.”||**||****|
|Robert Shrum, Huffington Post||“The reality of this debate is that McCain didn’t pass the threshold on the economy. He can’t get there with blather about earmarks; the voters aren’t dumb. The big story tonight: Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of President Obama.”||*||*****|
The scores assigned to the candidates represent the BBC’s interpretation of the writers’ comments. One star indicates a poor performance, five stars an excellent one.[BBC News]
CNN’s poll of debate-watchers found 54% said Mr Obama had done the best job, compared with 30% for Mr McCain.
CBS’s poll of undecided voters suggested 39% thought Mr Obama the winner, with 27% for Mr McCain and 35% calling it a draw. [BBC News]
McCain needs to work on his material and stature if he is going to be the comeback kid in these debates. However, if his campaign can sow enough seeds of doubts about Obama’s record then he may yet win the undecided and the leaning voters. Time though is running out to swing enough of them in the key marginal seats.
One month to go and it is all out assault – Obama had biscuits with a terrorist on a charity board, and McCain helped out a financial swindler.
Barack Obama accused John McCain of “smear tactics” and said he was not paying enough attention to the economic crisis that has been gripping the US.
John McCain said Mr Obama was “lying” about his ties to the home loan industry and asked what his rival had ever accomplished in government.[BBC News]
Will this mudslinging go into tonight’s Presidential debate? McCain has stated that the gloves are off: “For a guy who has already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book”. Obama, making it into a prize fight for the White House stated: “We don’t throw the first punch, but we’ll throw the last”.
Yet the window dressing is not as significant as the movement in the polls. The BBC report above states that Obama is 6% ahead in Ohio in the Washington Post poll – a state which if Obama wins then the White House is his.
What the BBC does not mention is the range of polls for Ohio which are: [source]
|Poll||Date||Sample||Obama (D)||McCain (R)||Spread|
|RCP Average||09/24 – 10/05||–||48.7||45.2||Obama +3.5|
|FOX News/Rasmussen||10/05 – 10/05||1000 LV||47||48||McCain +1|
|ABC News/Wash Post||10/03 – 10/05||772 LV||51||45||Obama +6|
|Columbus Dispatch*||09/24 – 10/03||2262 LV||49||42||Obama +7|
|SurveyUSA||09/28 – 09/29||693 LV||48||49||McCain +1|
|Quinnipiac||09/27 – 09/29||825 LV||50||42||Obama +8|
|InAdv/PollPosition||09/29 – 09/29||512 LV||47||45||Obama +2|
The average has moved up from a 2% lead to 3.5% [blog on battle states]. Yet the wide range with polls (two declaring for McCain) the data that we have suggests that this could be closer then people are letting us think. The result being that everything including the kitchen sink is going to be thrown at the opponent before this election is over.
The format of the debate is a town hall with undecided voters especially catered for in the audience. The usual political towing and throwing is likely to turn off such an audience, and in the economic problems and security issues the next President will face seem out of touch, if not surreal. In toss up states, undecided voters that decide to vote could sway the result – if they unevenly break for McCain (my prediction is they will) the battle states would be within grasp.
We want the candidates to be tested, not with quips against each other, but with substance on what will be their guiding principles in office and what they are going to do. The first may be more important than the later as by the time January 2009 comes along the economy may not give scope to the plans that they have.
I have said that by mid October a 10% lead in the polls would give Obama the cushion he needs for a Mccain bounce and the margin of error which I predict could be higher in the polls then they have been for sometime. On the eve of the debate the polls stand:
|Poll||Date||Sample||Obama (D)||McCain (R)||Spread|
|RCP Average||09/30 – 10/06||–||49.6||43.8||Obama +5.8|
|Reuters/CSpan/Zogby Tracking||10/04 – 10/06||1237 LV||48||45||Obama +3|
|NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl||10/04 – 10/05||658 RV||49||43||Obama +6|
|CBS News||10/03 – 10/05||616 LV||48||45||Obama +3|
|CNN||10/03 – 10/05||694 LV||53||45||Obama +8|
|Gallup Tracking||10/03 – 10/05||2744 RV||50||42||Obama +8|
|Rasmussen Tracking||10/03 – 10/05||3000 LV||52||44||Obama +8|
|Hotline/FD Tracking||10/03 – 10/05||909 LV||47||41||Obama +6|
|Democracy Corps (D)||10/01 – 10/05||1000 LV||49||46||Obama +3|
|GW/Battleground Tracking||09/30 – 10/05||800 LV||50||43||Obama +7|
Tonight Obama needs to sound like a President – McCain has to land punches to make movement. The US (and the world) needs a leader not a political counter puncher. Yet Obama needs more than just words, he needs to show himself to be a man of action. Or else the lead he has will start to descend nearing polling day.
The Democrats are responding to the negative personal attack ads of the McCain camp by calling attention to the Keating 5 Scandal, which led to McCain being rebuked on the Senate floor. Having e mailed supporters to see a new documentary on the website Keating Economics, available 12 pm Eastern. But it will be something like this:
At the heart of the scandal was Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors’ money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry — actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.[ibid]
This, together with McCain not able to lead in the bipartisan attempt to get the $700bn bail out bill passed (without sweetners which is at the heart of what is wrong with American politics), may be a good tactic for the Democrats. Attacking with something substantive works as opposed to guilt by association.
Sarah Palin may be disappointed that they have left the state of Michigan. Yet with Obama having a 7% lead in a state that voted for Kerry and Gore, it makes much more sense for the Republicans to focus on the key battle states and take the resources from this state to those where it may make the difference. Namely:
State Electoral Count Obama lead (%)
North Carolina 15 0.5
Nevada 5 1.8
Ohio 20 2.0
Virgina 13 2.4
Florida 27 3.0 [source]
If the Republicans concede any of these states then McCain has lost the White House. Taking states like those above where candidates have a 3% lead or less gives Obama 264 and McCain 163 – to win all it takes is 270. Despite Obama having on average a 6% lead in the polls (ranging from 3% – 9%) it will be those marginal states above that decide it. If McCain can get a 1.5% swing to him from Obama he will win the White House.
As I think that the polls are over stating Obama’s lead and under representing McCain, it is still very possible for McCain to win the White House. It is tight, and giving up on States that Obama has a clear lead in may be the smart move.
What McCain cannot afford however is to loose any states he currently holds. The good news for him (unlike Obama) is that most states are solidly supporting him, with only two states being vulnerable:
State Electoral Count McCain lead (%)
Missouri 11 1.7
Indiana 11 2.2 [source]
So when people tell you it will be a landslide for Obama or a close run race the answer is that there is an element of truth. If all the toss up seats go as they indicate above then Obama wins triumphantly 353 to 185. But a closer race is well within the margin for error. Obama wins Flordia or Ohio and keeps the other states that strongly support him then it is game over for McCain.
If the polls are under representing support for McCain he has a good chance of a narrow win. All the states above that are for Obama voted for George Bush in both 2000 and 20004. That may yet be reflected as we get nearer to polling day.
So expect more things like Palin pointing out that Obama was on a charity board with a founder member of the Weather Underground (a terroirst organisation against US involvement in the Vietnam war) while campaigning in Colorado (leaning to Obama 4.4% lead but voted for Bush the previous two times). What the McCain camp hope is that if the election becomes about character McCain will win. With Obama in Virgina attacking McCain’s health plan we may yet see an ideological battle occur to against an economic meltdown backdrop.
The key thing will be getting out the vote in these states. If Obama supporters feel that it is a done deal they may be inclined to stay at home. That would be a nightmare on polling day when results show the contest closer then the media were calling it. Obama has shown that he can create the momentum. The thing is to keep it going and on election day deliver his supporters to the polling booth.
One thing which McCain and Palin may use in the campaign:
The positive component is pretty straightforward: McCain and Palin are common sense conservatives and proven reformers. The record of reform can be emphasized and contrasted with Obama’s and Biden’s record of conventional, go-along, get-along liberalism. And implicitly: If McCain and Palin are reformers and outsiders, it’s not Bush’s third term. More important is the negative message. The McCain campaign has to convince 51 percent of the voters they can’t trust Barack Obama to be our next president. This has an ideological component and a character component. [Weekly Standard]
Democrats keep the champagne in the fridge – instead keep drinking the coffee because you are going to have to bust a gut to make sure that Obama wins the key states above and not fall for the hype that is being generated. The time to relax is when the polls close, because it ain’t over till it’s over.
There is reality then there is the perception of that reality. Maybe all is bubble and foam, and that includes analysis of Presidential debates – there is no such thing as it being value free.
The debate can be watched in full here.
On that note, the fact that some call it for McCain, some call it for Obama, and the majority call it a dead heat is not as important as how the electorate perceived the debate they saw. On that note the polls suggest that Obama came out on top.
CBS Insta Poll shows Barack Obama won 39% to John McCain‘s 25% with 36% saying the debate was a draw.
Insider Advantage reports of those polled Obama won 42% to McCain’s 41% with Undecided 17%
CNN reports voter opinions that Obama “did better” 51%, McCain “did better” 38%
The CNN poll showed men were evenly split, but women gave Obama higher marks 59% to 41% for McCain.
Obama came across with authority, prepared to commit strikes in Pakistan. McCain was the one sounding like you need to build allies and not distance them from their own people. Obama retorting that lacked credibility from some one that sang bomb Iran.
McCain however came across as someone assured that he knew what he was doing on the world stage, while Obama came across as knowing how to say his message fro change. McCain though made the play of his experience in the Senate. The difference however was that Obama looked like the change canidate while McCain had the record for partisanship and with Palin a challenge to the usual Washington politic.
Here is just a sample of scorecards on the two candidates. The scores assigned to the candidates represent the BBC’s interpretation of the writers’ comments. One star indicates a poor performance, five stars an excellent one. :
|Writer||Verdict||McCain score||Obama score|
|Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress||“All things considered, it’s about a draw. McCain got a couple of good punches in and so did Obama. Insofar as the idea is supposed to be that McCain has a domineering advantage on national security he certainly didn’t prove that point. And for the candidate who’s losing, a tie amounts to a loss.”||***||***|
|Jim Geraghty, The National Review||Barack Obama failed in his main task – looking ready to take over on 20 January. His answers were halting early on and he “let his irritation / exasperation / disbelief” show, “it wasn’t quite the right tone”. Anyone wavering on McCain will have been “reassured a great deal”. In that sense it was a “major win” for him.||****||*|
|Kos, The Daily Kos||Barack Obama was very effective. He proved he as well-versed on foreign leaders and countries, despite Mr McCain’s continuous attacks that “Senator Obama doesn’t understand / doesn’t get it”. The debate “reinforced Obama’s fitness to be president”. This was not a loss McCain needed bearing in mind his “lagging” poll numbers.||*||****|
|Ezra Klein, The American Prospect||“I haven’t seen any poll or focus group that scored it for McCain. So Obama won. But… McCain was certainly more impassioned… His emotion, his passion, came from a nearly uncontrollable contempt for his opponent… He did an extremely good stylistic job in an extremely hard situation.”||***||****|
|Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post||A good night for both candidates. “Final verdict: McCain back from the dead, but not nearly enough to seize the momentum in a ‘change’ election… after the dust has settled, the economy will still be in free fall, McCain will still be the guy who 10 days ago thought the fundamentals of the economy are strong, and 83% of the country will still be looking for a change in direction.”||***||****|
|Hugh Hewitt, Townhall.com||It was a “strong McCain win”. He shined and put Barack Obama on the defensive. Obama “stumbled” on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. McCain’s closing remarks, when he hit Obama for his stubborness, were “very strong”.||****||*|
|Michael Tomasky, The Guardian||“I’ve never been quite this confused about a debate in a long time… I thought each acquitted himself well on the other fellow’s terrain… I don’t think Obama’s win, if that’s what it was, was so decisive that the McCain team can’t reverse spin it.”||***||***|
|Gideon Rachman, Financial Times||The exchanges on the financial crisis were “feeble in the extreme”. McCain “became noticeably more confident and coherent, once the discussion switched to foreign policy”. Obama was “relaxed, coherent and showed flashes of humour” and overall performed well.||***||****|
Obama certainly gave crisp clear answers, rather than ones that seemed to try to bear in all the complexities of the issues that you kind of forgot what the question was. Polls indicate that when McCain went for the attack on Obama, support went down across the board. The CNN focus group this comes from suggests that McCain’s body language (looking away from Obama) did not play well, compared to Obama who looked directly at his opponent.
The big problem was that Obama seemed ready for office, he looked like a Presidential contender. I tried listening to the debate without visual. McCain came across better, but strangely the age difference between the candidates seemed more marked in their voice then in their appearance. Obama, youthful but assured. McCain experienced, but old and the clink of thoughts retrieved.
In short I would call the debate all things to all partisans – but in reality both men did well. Neither gave a knock out blow. But McCain needs to talk up why he should be commander in chief and lead the world’s biggest economy in global financial meltdown. Attacking his opponent does not seem to be working.
The bigger concern was that neither man seemed up to the task of grappling with the problems in the global economy. That, rather than foreign affairs, seems to be at the heart of American concerns. The only thing saving them is no one has a solid plan, and events rather then clear heads are leading the animal spirits let loose in the global community.
So who do I call it for? Well McCain did well in coming across as a man of experience. He could so easily have killed himself. His problem though is that Obama has grown, and in some ways Hillary Clinton may have to be thanked for that. Because without that tight race Obama may not have developed. He sounds like he has made it, he is not faking it. He is ready to be President.
If that holds up, then the McCain bounce that I think will come later in the campaign may have trouble overcoming an Obama lead. But there is still much left to go. Both sides can claim their man won, but in reality Obama was ahead by a whisker in a close to call debate. That however means that McCain is still going to stay where he is in the polls. His campaign needs him to start narrowing the lead, for a late surge to make victory possible.
Obama must have been kicking himself for insisting Friday’s debate changed from the economy to foreign policy. Right now the polls are favouring Obama during the financial crisis, and Congress is at logger heads with the Presidents $700 billion rescue plan. One that would allow such future sums of money to be done by the Treasury Secretary without Congress deciding. Something may need doing, but that does not mean the power to scrutinize or hold people to account should not happen. It would also be good to ensure that there is something for the taxpayer rather than nationalising losses and bankers getting pay offs.
The economy is an issue which McCain looses to Obama on. He admitted before he secured the Republican nomination that economics was not his strong point. However, in a show of national leadership and bi partisanship, McCain suspended his campaign to return to Washington.
The worsening economic situation has seen voters increasingly turning to Obama as the candidate best able to lead the country through the crisis. A Washington Post/ABC News poll this morning showed Obama leading 52% to 43% among likely voters. The poll shows voters trust Obama more to handle the economy, 53% to 39%.
Both contenders are working out a joint statement on how they will handle the issue. However, Obama seems intent on going on campaigning while helping out in Washington, and that the debate is still happening Friday.
The action of McCain speaks louder than any policy either candidate has so far voiced on economic policy. At the very least, it is one that is easy to understand for the electorate. It could be an attempt to win votes, but then if politicians do that by taking action to solve a crisis then we may be inclined to say they are worthy of consideration for that.
It does look like it has caught Obama on the back foot, as McCain takes the lead. He looks like the senior Senator and that reminder may well mark out the contrast between him and Obama in the campaign. The official campaign may have stopped. The attempt to influence the voters of course is still business as usual.
It ain’t over till it’s over.
The electoral math does not lie, but trying to get your head around it may involve one hell of a hang over the morning after election day. Put simply, the figures I have just quoted assumes that states with less than 3.1% lead for a candidate go that way come polling day.
All the states have a certain weight (therefore not equal) in the electoral college that decides who becomes President. As Al Gore showed the percentage of the popular vote nationwide is not the deciding factor but how a few key states, known as bell weather states, fall come polling day.
These battleground states are the key to who will win. In the past my prediction is that Obama will loose ground come polling day. I base that on people deciding nearer to polling day that McCain is more experienced for Commander in Chief, and also that people may underplay their intention to vote Republican (undecideds will unevenly break for McCain).
That analysis suggest that any state with up to a 3% lead for Obama now could turn against him come polling day. My prediction is that Colorado (9 votes) will not stay in Obama’s grasp. He has a 2.5% lead in a state that voted for George W. Bush twice (8.4% lead in 2000, 4.7% in 2004).
All other things remaining equal, that would give McCain the White House. In terms of the popular vote I have stated that Obama needs 5% come mid October, which would by polling day drop to 3% – to be sure of winning the White House. In short I am saying that he will drop 2% points in that time frame. If he is less than 5% come mid October then McCain has every reason to hope that his key states are safe and that a state like Colorado would be his.
Depending on what poll you use, Obama has up to 5% or McCain a 1% lead. Obama seems to have taken the lead back from McCain with an average of 2.7%. Even if we go for the four percent it still means a photo finish come Polling day. The question is whether McCain can pull in front. Hopefully for his campaign the brief moment he was leading Obama will return, and that he has not peaked too early.
The televised debates will give us more to go on. McCain needs to improve the vote – at the moment he is polling worse than George W Bush did last time (save for Louisiana, Arizona and Arkansas). If he can have a good showing against Obama then he could put New Hampshire (4) back into play which currently is Obama’s by only 1.7% (voted Kerry in 2004, George W Bush 2000 each time a 1.3% lead). All other things being equal a state like New Hampshire with only 4 votes could in that situation make it a dead heat.
Obama will be favoured for his more media friendly presentation then McCain’s more town hall approach. Because of how many seats are only just leaning to the candidates (take those seats out of the race and it is 219 -189 for Obama) means that slip ups and gaffes really could tip states over as candidates trip up. With the result this close expect more spinning, mud throwing and general hysteria about the General Election.