The Bashville in Nashville in tonight’s Presidential Debate

Close your eyes, as the mud is slung

Close your eyes, as the mud is slung

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.

Will Obama deliver the K.O. punch tonight?
Will Obama deliver the K.O. punch tonight?

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.

OTHER BLOGS:

Keating coming back to haunt McCain

Republicans pull out of Michigan – the toss up states matter

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