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Obama wins round 2

by Frank Schnittger Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 01:05:14 AM EST

Obama won the second debate in Tennessee last night even though it was in McCain's favoured town hall format.  Post-debate polls said that Obama won the debate by a 54 to 30% margin (CNN) whilst a CBS poll of uncommitted voters gave Obama the win by a 40% to 25% margin.  Obama also improved his favour/unfavourable rating from 60/38 to 64/34 whilst McCain's rating remained unchanged at 51/46.

The differences between the candidates were not so much partisan as generational.  McCain looked every year of his age as he wandered around the stage (often in the background as Obama spoke) whilst Obama's youth, energy, focus and poise seemed to embody the future.  Once again McCain came across as the somewhat curmudgeonly old grandpa who has seen it all, done it all, knows it all, and is not slow to tell you all about it ad nauseum.  "My friends, I know how to do this" seems to be his mantra - with the clear implication that Obama, Bush, the Republican Leadership, and all Democrats don't have his experience, wisdom, and knowledge.  His somewhat condescending attitude towards Obama once again came across in a reference to Obama as "that one" and in a refusal to shake hands afterwards.

This time Obama was a lot less deferential, made no mention of McCain's experience or service, and was much quicker to rebut any charges that McCain made.  McCain spent a lot of time attacking Obama, and every time he did so the graphic representation of the focus groups reactions turned sharply downward.  This group was looking for positive proposals rather than negative criticisms of the other side's character, experience, judgment or proposals.   It makes you wonder about the effectiveness of negative advertising on uncommitted voters.

I won't into the specifics of what the candidates actually said because the format didn't really allow for a clear exposition of policy. What you get are sound bites with heavy emphasis on key words like "middle class", "tax cuts", "jobs", "home owners", "deregulation", "the surge is working", "General Petraeus", "terrorism", "energy independence", "affordable health care" etc. each of which has been carefully researched with focus groups to gauge their reactions.

It is doubtful if the average voter can distinguish much between the actual proposals of the protagonists. What they are looking for is whether thy can identify with how a candidate portrays their concerns and whether that candidate inspires confidence in their ability to represent their concerns in the White House..

CBS Poll: Uncommitted Voters Say Obama Won Debate - Horserace

After the debate, 68 percent of uncommitted voters said that they think Obama will make the right decisions on the economy, compared to 55 percent who said that before the debate. Fewer thought McCain would do so - 48 percent after the debate, and 41 percent before.

Before the debate, 59 percent thought Obama understands voters' needs and problems; that rose to 80 percent after the debate. For McCain, 33 percent felt he understands voters' needs before the debate, and 44 percent thought so afterwards.

There is some good news for McCain, who still dominates Obama when it comes to perceptions of readiness to be president. Before the debate, 42 percent thought Obama was prepared for the job, and that percentage rose to 58 percent after the debate. But 77 percent felt McCain was prepared for the job before the debate, and 83 percent thought so afterwards.

Before the debate, 51 percent thought Obama would bring real change; afterwards, 63 percent thought that. For McCain, just 23 percent thought he would bring real change before the debate, while 38 percent thought so afterwards.

Fifty-seven percent thought McCain answered the questions that were asked, and an identical amount though Obama did.

Seventy-two percent of uncommitted voters remained uncommitted after the debate. Fifteen percent committed to Obama, and 12 percent to McCain.

There is not much change in actual voting preferences there, but McCain needed a game changer, and he didn't get it.  Even a tie would have been sufficient for Obama - as long as it didn't halt the momentum of Obama's recent gains.

President Clinton is famous for building his campaign around the slogan "It's the economy, stupid" at a time when 41% of Americans thought the economy was the no. 1 issue.  Now 60% of American's think that the economy is the most important issue, and that is where Obama has 20 point leads over McCain in the CNN viewer poll.  Obama also had leads of 65/28 on most likeable. 54/43 on Leadership, and 60/30 on the clarity of his answers.  

There is no evidence in these numbers that race will be a major factor in this election, but David Gergen, CNN pundit, did raise the "Bradley effect" in his post debate comments - saying the polls could overestimate actual voting behaviour by as much as 6%.  Other pundits disputed this thesis and said the primary polls had generally predicted actual voting behaviour quite well.  (That was of course with a largely Democratic electorate, and it remains to be seen whether Republican/Independent voters are being entirely candid with pollsters)

There are other factors which may work in Obama's favour - his ground game, and the fact that pollsters base their "likely voter" models on past voter behaviour.  All the evidence on the ground appears to be that Obama's ground game and the mobilisation of youth and minority voters will far exceed past elections and thus cancel out any "Bradley effect" should it exist.   The race may well tighten up again before voting day, but it is difficult to see the major swing McCain requires now happening in the 4 weeks remaining.  The fat lady may not be singing yet, but she is beginning to clear her throat.

Largely agree, Frank.
Though the differences in style were probably dominant, there were some clear moments of difference in philosophy.

I thought the question about health care was at first poorly framed and poorly answered, but the moderator reframed it in a format that got far better, more revealing results.

"Quick discussion: Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?"
said Tom Brokaw.

McCain's answer was almost indecipherable--mumbo jumbo about the nuts and bolts, but he said "I think it's a responsibility."

Brokaw then asked Obama.

"Well, I think it should be a right for every American," the Democrats declared. "In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills -- for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."

A great response, and his best of the night, I thought.
But--- Obama was in control, calm, almost unemotional. Too bad.
Joe Biden hit it out of the park when he was--less controlled?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 06:12:53 AM EST
I don't mean to dismiss the content of their responses entirely - just to note that it was often secondary.  At 5.00 am in the morning here I didn't feel like writing a long and detailed diary parsing their exact words and phrases when most people who were interested would have watched the debate or read some of the MSM commentary in any case.

But I agree - Obama was once again the more coherent and powerful orator, demonstrated good empathy with his audience, and generally managed to convey a clear sense of what his approach or priorities to a problem would be.  

I take it for granted that most people here have some sense of their differences of policy and approach.  But what Obama is doing here is winning over undecideds who do not have a clear sense of policy or politics.  He is winning them over by his presence, calmness, rationality, and obvious intelligence - so that thy will feel more confident that -whatever the problem - he is best equipped to tackle it.

Every time the American people see him, Obama's favourables rise and his unfavourables decline.  Barring a major mistake (or a major terrorist event on US soil) it is difficult now to see why anyone would switch back to McCain.  There may be many who for reasons of racism, extreme conservatism, or evangelical fervour, will never vote for Obama.  But he has been chipping away at the fringes of that base and, once they have made the switch, it is difficult to see how they would ever go back to McCain.

I would expect Obama's numbers to continue on their slow upward trajectory with his lead gradually rising to double figures.  West Virginia, Georgia, and perhaps even Texas may come into play.  It won't necessarily be a blow-out, but it is becoming a very difficult election to steal.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 08:08:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every time the American people see him, Obama's favourables rise and his unfavourables decline.

That's what charisma or presence is. In fact, I believe the semitic word Baraka also applies.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 08:18:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also the root of the name Mubarik and, if I recall properly, one of the traditional Names of the Prophet, as in B'isin Allah, Al Mubarik.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 01:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very, very difficult these days to win an election by double digits.  Hasn't happened obviously since 1984.  The widest since then was Clinton's 8.51-point win in '96.

10 points would be the very extreme of my "Max Obama Margin" scenario.

To put Tejas in play, you've gotta get 75% of Latinos, if not more.  Very tough.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 03:45:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good link to the source of my blockquotes:
John Nichols, The Nation

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 06:16:13 AM EST
h/t to Ceebs for link

ABC News' Rick Klein: "[M]cCain is roaming the stage, playing to his strength. And comes out with a policy proposal to help people stay in their homes -- a strong lead answer, to have a meaty response to that. McCain looks confident early." (Rick Klein, "Live Debate Blog," ABC News' "Live Debate Blog," blogs.abcnews.com, 10/7/08)

The New York Times' Katharine Q. Seelye: "Mr. McCain is developing a chatty rapport with Mr. Brokaw about the candidates exceeding their time limits. He seems relaxed, as if he knows he is making a connection on a personal level. He roams the stage. Mr. Obama, who once stood in front of classes as a college professor, stands still while delivering his answers, and this one on health care sounds more like a lecture." (Katharine Q. Seelye, "McCain Warms To The Setting," The New York Times' "The Caucus" Blog, thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com, 10/7/08)

The Politico's Jonathan Martin: "McCain, taking a question from a naval retiree, gives him a pat on the shoulder and a firm handshake. `Everything I ever learned about leadership, I learned from a chief petty officer,' says one old sailor to another. It was surely a moment that won a lot of nodding heads from vets all over the country." (Jonathan Martin, "Vets And Servicemembers Had To Love This Moment," The Politico's "Jonathan Martin" Blog, www.politico.com, 10/7/08)

* Martin: "McCain unveils a new pork-barrel project to be condemned: an overhead projector for a planetarium in Chicago that was included in Obama's earmarks." (Jonathan Martin, "The New Bears In Montana!!!" The Politico's "Jonathan Martin" Blog, www.politico.com, 10/7/08)

* Martin: "A strong close by the GOPer with: `We can't afford somebody who needs on the job training, my friend.'" (Jonathan Martin, "McCain In Comfort Zone On National Security," The Politico's "Jonathan Martin" Blog, www.politico.com, 10/7/08)

* Martin: "Right at the outset, [McCain] offers empathy: `Americans are angry, they're upset, and they're a little fearful.'" (Jonathan Martin, "McCain's `I Feel Your Pain' Moment," The Politico's "Jonathan Martin" Blog, www.politico.com, 10/7/08)

CNN's Candy Crowley: "McCain seemed to answer first question [on a rescuing main street] better." (Candy Crowley, "How Tough Is Too Tough?" CNN's "Political Ticker" Blog, politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com, 10/7/08)

CNN's Bill Schneider: "That's a pretty fundamental question should there be for profit health care? Obama's answer...he's not answering the question." (Bill Schneider, "Obama Not Answering The Question," CNN's "Political Ticker" Blog, www.cnn.com, 10/7/08)

* Schneider: "McCain's tone is better at talking to the audience..." (Bill Schneider, "Are The Candidates Relating To The Audience," CNN's politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com, 10/7/08)

MSNBC's Pat Buchanan: "I think McCain did come in with more heart and more fight. And I agree with you, he was the aggressor. He was throwing the punches. He did it in a better way than he did it last week when I thought he had won on points. Here he smiled. He looked at his opponent. He looked at Tom Brokaw. He talked to the audience, and he did it in a more calm fashion. And I think he clearly scored more points than Barack Obama did." (MSNBC, 10/7/08)

National Review's Lisa Schiffren: "Is it necessary to explain the basics? McCain is doing really well with the audience in the room by doing so. Does it translate to the TV audience? McCain is really sounding clear, energetic and firm." (Lisa Schiffren, "Talking Down To The Audience," National Review's "The Corner" Blog, corner.nationalreview.com, 10/7/08)

Commentary's John Podhoretz: "This is McCain's mantra. I know how. I know how. Here's what I will do." (John Podhoretz, "I Know How To Do That," Commentary's "Contentions" Blog, www.commentarymagazine.com, 10/7/08)

Commentary's Daniel Casse: "[M]cCain is delivering tight, crisp, and extremely effective answers. Every answer has a similar structure: (a) I care about this issue (b) I've stood up against Bush/special interests on this issue (c) Obama has never taken a stand, never acted on this (d) so let's compare records." (Daniel Casse, "McCain's Well-Structured Answers," Commentary's "Contentions" Blog, www.commentarymagazine.com, 10/7/08)

CNN's David Gergen: "I thought John McCain was more effective than he was last time on domestic policy. I thought his answers in general were more organized and he made his points more effectively." (CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," 10/7/08)

Fox News' Charles Krauthammer: "McCain won the first hour on domestic (issues)." (Fox News' "Presidential Debate," 10/7/08)

ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "I thought Senator McCain started out very strong when he said we have to address this financial crisis by having a plan to buy up all of the bad mortgages in the country showed real compassion and empathy there..." (ABC's "The Candidates Debate," 10/7/08)

* Stephanopoulos: "I was also struck in the way that both candidates handled the stage tonight ... As we know Senator McCain wanted these town hall meetings all year long against Senator Obama. He made a crack against that. He is comfortable in this setting." (ABC's "The Candidates Debate," 10/7/08)

ABC's Charlie Gibson: "I do think if there was any new proposal in the debate, it was what John McCain said about buying up the struggling home loan mortgages and renegotiate them at a new value, have the government do that." (ABC's "The Candidates Debate," 10/7/08)

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: "Nice moment for McCain: he claps a man (Terry Scherry) who asks about Iran on the shoulder and they shake hands." (Chris Cillizza, "The Nashville Skyline Debate," The Washington Post's "The Fix" Blog, www.washingtonpost.com, 10/7/08)

NBC's Chuck Todd: "[M]cCain did get stronger, I think, as the night went on. When it turned to foreign policy, you can see his comfort zone and you could see him getting more comfortable " (NBC's "Presidential Debate Coverage," 10/7/08)

NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "I think he was very comfortable in the format ... McCain was walking around approaching some of the questioners. Thanking them. Actually coming quite close to them. ... And as Chuck has pointed out, with the economy in such a tail spin, he came armed with a new proposal to have the government buy up failing mortgages ... That was a gutsy move." (NBC's "Presidential Debate Coverage," 10/7/08)

The Politico's Ben Smith: "Really, the first of the night. McCain takes a question from a Navy veteran. `Everything I ever learned about leadership, I learned from chief petty officer,' he says, walking over to the man and patting his shoulder." (Ben Smith, "A Connection," The Politico's "Ben Smith" Blog, www.politico.com, 10/7/08)

Commentary's Jennifer Rubin: "On Afghanistan, Iraq and Russia McCain talks in action words what we will do, what will work and what our goals will be. Although he obviously wants to assure voters he will show restraint, his real strength is projecting a force of will and determination." (Jennifer Rubin, "National Security," Commentary's "Contentions" Blog, www.commentarymagazine.com, 10/7/08)

National Review's Mark Levin: "And he has shown more energy than usual. Obama is supposed to be the great orator (what happened to the messiah and the fainting?). The 72-year-old McCain has the upper-hand on the 47-year-old messiah, IMHO." (Mark Levin, "In Defense Of McCain," National Review's "The Corner" Blog, corner.nationalreview.com, 10/7/08)

CNN's Bill Bennett: "The last comments [John McCain] made, I thought, were quite impressive and quite moving." (CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," 10/7/08)

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 08:46:56 AM EST
I should have entitled the above "what the wingers are saying..."

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 08:47:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. Making me queasy, Frank.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 12:56:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wouldn't like you to get sea sick, now would we :-)

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 05:05:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree. For those watching on tv, what will stick is McCain wandering aimlessly around in the background while (seemingly) president Obama spoke. He looks more like Grandpa Simpson every day.

Obama benefits from the fact that at a time like this, everyone wants to hear from someone in charge, just wants to know that someone is in charge. Obviously, the few occasions when Bush sticks his head out of his burrow only remind people more that he is in control of nothing. Obama has delivered far more calming messages than anyone. He is at this point the de facto president.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson

by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 09:04:56 AM EST

From pollster.com

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 05:21:46 PM EST
The CNN and CBS ones are very encouraging.  Obama seems to be slicing off a few Reps relative to McCain while winning solidly with Indies.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Oct 8th, 2008 at 08:55:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is shaping up to be a Re-Alignment Election.

After Second Presidential Debate, Undecideds Move Toward Obama - Obama 57%, McCain 43%

The highest spike (most number of outcomes) of simulation runs on FiveThirtyEight

is 375 EVs.

Same site gives:

Obama Win:  90.7%
McCain Win: 9.3%
Obama Landslide (375+ EV): 36.74% - in the Obama Win percentage that percent of the time he wins by that many EVs or more.

Same site gives a 25% chance of the Democrats getting 60 Senate seats.

My compilation of various sites looking at House races indicates the Democrats will pick-up House seats, anywhere from 17 to 70.  At this point - who knows?

McCain is in Iowa.  Again.  For a day.  Why?  Beats the holy living crap outta me!  Reckon his next blitz will be California.  (Makes as much sense.)

The AARP (50+ million members) has a couple of page spread in their latest magazine - I get it for the porn ;-) - and "supports Obama 100%" noting, "McCain didn't bother to answer some of the questions."  (!)

Countering the trend is:

  1.  The GOP is sitting on a large sum of money ($50 Million?) they can throw at Obama in the next 25 days.  

  2.  The Unknown - anything that is unpredictable, such as Obama being assassinated, a terrorist attack, & so on.  (One tin-hat scenario has McCain being wounded by an assassin to swing public sympathy to him.)

The GOP has to break the trend or they are going down with a thud.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Oct 9th, 2008 at 07:22:01 PM EST
Yep - the national trend actually tightened a bit from a 7.9 to 5.9 Obama lead on Pollster.com but this includes some slightly dodgy polls - and also on RCP (but he excludes any polls like research2000/DKOS which tend to favour Obama).  

However the news at state level has all been good for Obama with even W. Virginia swinging his way.  Only Indiana and Georgia, of the winnable states, are still holding out.  Montana may yet become marginal as well.  Obama'a ground game may still win it in Indiana.  Tracking polls have yet to fully reflect Obama's debate performance and the economy is still tanking - so even if Obama flatlines at this level it becomes an inevitability as election day approaches.

McCain is doing great in Texas, Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Arkansas, Utah etc.where it matters not a damn and where probably people aren't even paying attention because there are no ads, no organisations, and no local campaign events.

McCain seems to be getting increasingly desperate and Obama has some good ad material with Video clips of "that guy" "kill him" and the crazy attempt to link him to Vietnam era terrorism. Palin's far right allusions raise the spectre of race war all over again and moderate independents just don't want to go there.

McCain's proposal to buy up/renegotiate bad mortgages seems to have disconcerted his own base more than anything and allowed Obama to portray him as flaky (even though Obama may end up doing something similar).

Cheney's plan to nuke Iran this fall seems to have become unstuck when the Air force refused to cooperate, so I'm not sure what options the GOP have left to try and avert a blow-out.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 9th, 2008 at 10:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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