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Did the Debates Matter?



Barack Obama and John McCain squared off in the third and final debate at Hofstra University. Photo by Gary Hershorn of Getty Images

Although there are still three days before the presidential election, some already are looking back at what happened -- and what mattered -- during this most historic of races.

One of the most intriguing debates within that framework is whether or not the three debates (heyooo!) between Barack Obama and John McCain fundamentally shaped or re-shaped the race.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that they did not. The financial crisis, which has clearly accrued to Obama's political benefit, hit just as the general election debate season was heating up, and McCain's gambit to suspend his campaign in order to return to Washington and broker a deal on a rescue package blew up before the two men ever took the debate stage.

But, Bob Kaiser, the former managing editor of the Post who is now covering the campaign for the Style section, makes the opposite case: that the debates mattered greatly in influencing the overall arc of the campaign.

Writes Kaiser:

"There is now a lot of evidence from polls and focus groups suggesting that Sen. Obama has significantly improved his standing with a great many Americans since the first debate on Sept. 26, exactly five weeks ago. Americans find Obama more empathetic, stronger, better prepared to be president and just more sympathetic a figure than they did before the debates."

Kaiser argues that the massive audience of more than 240 million viewers for the four debates -- the three presidential match ups and the single vice-presidential face-off between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- coupled with Obama's strategy of reassurance and readiness had much to do with the current lead the Illinois senator enjoys in the key states as well as national polling.

Kaiser sees a direct parallel between the 1980 race between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and this one in terms of the impact a debate can have on a race. In that contest, Reagan faced significant doubts about his readiness for office up until a week before the election. But, Reagan's debate performance against Carter turned those doubters around and he wound up winning the election by 10 points.

Using the debates as a tool for reassurance appears to have been Obama's strategy as well. "I think it took Obama three debates for people to see how calm he was, how composed he was, that you couldn't get to this guy," Commission on Presidential Debates Republican Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf told Kaiser. "He was very well organized. By the time that final debate was over, I think he satisfied the qualms of the American people."

So, what do you think? Did Obama's low key but steady performances in the debates change the way the American public saw him? Or was it simply a side show when compared to the massive economic collapse gripping the country during the three debates?

The comments section awaits.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 1, 2008; 11:06 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Dole Ad: Over the Line?
Next: The Fix's Crystal Ball Predictions

Comments

DorchesterAndCongress - posting the same thing over and over just makes you look like the dumb a$$ you are. Try going over to the Rush Limbaugh web site where even a dumb a$$ like you will look smart in comparison to the REST of the dildo-heads.

Posted by: xconservative | November 3, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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If there was a white Presidential candidate who was found to be a member of a racist church, same as the Rev. Wright's church except substitute "white values" for "black values" and visa vera, THE MEDIA WOULD BE IN TOTAL ATTACK MODE AGAINST THAT WHITE CANDIDATE.


OBAMA IS A RACIST - OBAMA HAS GIVE $20,000.00 TO A RACIST CHURCH IN ONE YEAR.


Washington Post - there are a lot of Churches in Chicago which are black and which are not racist - Obama did not have to give $20,000.00 to this one Church - STOP GIVING OBAMA A PASS ON HIS RACISM AGAINST WHITES.


WAKE UP WASHINGTON POST WAKE UP MEDIA.


WAKE UP AMERICA.


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Exactly right he's racist. Just listen to Irreverend Wrong, his pastor for many, many years.


Exactly right he's socialist. Just listen to him admit it to Joe the Plumber, or his interviews in the past.


Exactly right he's a rotten human being. Just look at his abortion voting record.


Exactly right he has questionable judgment. Just look at his associations with people in his past.


Exactly right he's corrupt. Just look at the Rezko land deal.


Exactly right he's a liar. Just look at what he says about taxes vs. how he's actually voted.


Exactly right he has no executive experience. Just look at his resume -- or lack thereof.


Exactly right he's secretive. Just look at his lack of birth certificate, SAT scores, grades, etc. etc., etc.


Exactly right he'll be challenged in his first 6 months of office if elected. Just look at what he says about meeting unconditionally with world leaders.


We cannot be SERIOUS about electing this guy!! Obama in charge of nukes?! What. The.


Sorry George Washington, we messed everything up.


We stopped demanding the best people in the White House.


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.

Posted by: DorchesterAndCongress | November 3, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

If you look at the arc of the polls surrounding each debate, Obama is starting to slide just before each debate and rights the momentum the other direction after each debate climbing back up to another peak, then descending just before the next debate. That is why he timed his infomercial for mid-week last week. His slide stopped and he's begun a slight climb in the national polls here again just before the election.

In my opinion, the economy and McCain's erratic response turned the momentum strongly to Obama, and his performances in the debates kept the momentum from sliding back in the other direction after that.

The coup de grace for McCain's chances has been the meteoric rise and fall of Sarah Palin, who is finished in national politics after this election. Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol don't realize it, but it's true. Biden competently handled her in their debate and that was all the information America needed to confirm what they were already thinking of her.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | November 3, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

The wisdom of the crowds. Oh, boy. *looks around*

Most people in most election seasons look to debates to confirm their preexisting sense of the parties and where they stand; it takes a rare candidate on his or her worst night to shake most supporters of a party view out of supporting the party's candidate.

This is fine, because the constraints of the format don't really allow for any long sets of facts or figures to be delivered in service to a point. Everybody knows it's a show, and not a very entertaining one at that. SNL and the Daily Show will have had more of an impact on the election than the debates.

Posted by: jthompsonxfaa | November 2, 2008 11:59 PM | Report abuse

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If there was a white Presidential candidate who was found to be a member of a racist church, same as the Rev. Wright's church except substitute "white values" for "black values" and visa vera, THE MEDIA WOULD BE IN TOTAL ATTACK MODE AGAINST THAT WHITE CANDIDATE.


OBAMA IS A RACIST - OBAMA HAS GIVE $20,000.00 TO A RACIST CHURCH IN ONE YEAR.


Washington Post - there are a lot of Churches in Chicago which are black and which are not racist - Obama did not have to give $20,000.00 to this one Church - STOP GIVING OBAMA A PASS ON HIS RACISM AGAINST WHITES.


WAKE UP WASHINGTON POST WAKE UP MEDIA.


WAKE UP AMERICA.


.


.


Exactly right he's racist. Just listen to Irreverend Wrong, his pastor for many, many years.


Exactly right he's socialist. Just listen to him admit it to Joe the Plumber, or his interviews in the past.


Exactly right he's a rotten human being. Just look at his abortion voting record.


Exactly right he has questionable judgment. Just look at his associations with people in his past.


Exactly right he's corrupt. Just look at the Rezko land deal.


Exactly right he's a liar. Just look at what he says about taxes vs. how he's actually voted.


Exactly right he has no executive experience. Just look at his resume -- or lack thereof.


Exactly right he's secretive. Just look at his lack of birth certificate, SAT scores, grades, etc. etc., etc.


Exactly right he'll be challenged in his first 6 months of office if elected. Just look at what he says about meeting unconditionally with world leaders.


We cannot be SERIOUS about electing this guy!! Obama in charge of nukes?! What. The.


Sorry George Washington, we messed everything up.


We stopped demanding the best people in the White House.


.


.

Posted by: DorchesterAndCongress | November 2, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

SEN. OBAMA IS A SECURITY RISK TO AMERICA!!!!!

* With ties to extremist, he could leak this nation's secret to these people and their friends.

* It is also possible he could put one of his extremist friend in a national security position.

* He could seek to weaken this nation's security so America could be less of a treat to them and their friends.

Posted by: lazerboy | November 2, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I think the debates solidified the vote for Obama, but I'm not sure it had any effect overall, because, when I read the comments in this and other comment conversations, it seems that McCain supporters see what they want and are looking out for, as are those supporting Obama. Reading responses to any public commemts by either candidate, I think we could be listening to two totally different presentations!

Posted by: bbteach4 | November 2, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The debates were most helpful.

They revealed McCain's aggression, anger, and lack of a clear platform; not to mention that McCain walks and moves like a penguin.

Obama displayed confidence, a steady hand, statesman like demeanor, a vision for America, intellect and kindness.

Obama represented the 'pro-citizen' archetypal Democratic ideology and McCain, on the other hand, revealed the typical Republican posture of posing as a Democrat in an attempt to fool the gullible.

McCain is in decline. Obama's star is rising.

.

Posted by: research6 | November 2, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

.


.


If there was a white Presidential candidate who was found to be a member of a racist church, same as the Rev. Wright's church except substitute "white values" for "black values" and visa vera, THE MEDIA WOULD BE IN TOTAL ATTACK MODE AGAINST THAT WHITE CANDIDATE.


OBAMA IS A RACIST - OBAMA HAS GIVE $20,000.00 TO A RACIST CHURCH IN ONE YEAR.


Washington Post - there are a lot of Churches in Chicago which are black and which are not racist - Obama did not have to give $20,000.00 to this one Church - STOP GIVING OBAMA A PASS ON HIS RACISM AGAINST WHITES.


WAKE UP WASHINGTON POST WAKE UP MEDIA.


WAKE UP AMERICA.


.


.


Exactly right he's racist. Just listen to Irreverend Wrong, his pastor for many, many years.


Exactly right he's socialist. Just listen to him admit it to Joe the Plumber, or his interviews in the past.


Exactly right he's a rotten human being. Just look at his abortion voting record.


Exactly right he has questionable judgment. Just look at his associations with people in his past.


Exactly right he's corrupt. Just look at the Rezko land deal.


Exactly right he's a liar. Just look at what he says about taxes vs. how he's actually voted.


Exactly right he has no executive experience. Just look at his resume -- or lack thereof.


Exactly right he's secretive. Just look at his lack of birth certificate, SAT scores, grades, etc. etc., etc.


Exactly right he'll be challenged in his first 6 months of office if elected. Just look at what he says about meeting unconditionally with world leaders.


We cannot be SERIOUS about electing this guy!! Obama in charge of nukes?! What. The.


Sorry George Washington, we messed everything up.


We stopped demanding the best people in the White House.


.


.

Posted by: DorchesterAndCongress | November 2, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I wonder what it is about you that energizes the ranters and trolls so much? They never seem to pay any attention to the question. I suppose when one runs in a fantasy universe, that happens.

The debates did not change my mind but Obama was able to look presidential, calm, thoughtful, intelligent and reassuring, and that probably helped with some independent and undecided voters. Obama got a much bigger boost from the economic meltdown and McCain's bizarre response to it, and his disastrous VP selection that fired up the most radical Christian extremists in his base, but turned off most thinking, fiscal conservative, traditional Republicans. It's tough to become a bigger negative than Bush but spunky Sarah did it. We see the race tightening up a little because McCain has belatedly realized his best bet is to play on the "tax and spend liberals" theme that has helped Republicans in the past. I'm sorry that he chose a wife beating tax evading unlicensed plumber as his poster boy for this theme, but that's just one more reason why John McCain does not have the judgment to be President.

Posted by: greyparrot | November 2, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

THE LIBERAL MEDIA LIKE CNN, MSN, TIMES, etc. ARE GOING TO ENGAGE IN REP. VOTERS SUPPRESSION SCHEMES ESPECIALLY ON NOV 4.

* They are already doing it by implicitly telling Rep. voters that Sen. Obama has already won the election therefore Rep. voters are waisting their time showing up at the polls.

* I also expect these creatures to published fake polls showing Sen. Obama ahead by large margin, so Rep. voters will think they are waisting their time showing up at the polls.

BTW, most polls for battle ground states show Sen. McCain making constant progress and is within the margin of error. So, turnout will be a big factor in this election. SO, REP. VOTERS DON'T TRUST WHAT YOU ARE SEEING ON TV AND ON POLLS AND SHOW UP ON ELECTION DAY, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: lazerboy | November 2, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Did the debates matter? No. I know John McCain personally--he's a neighbor--and personal experience with his arrogance dictated that I would be one Republican withholding my vote for him. The man seems to have lost his moral compass. The best thing that could happen to this country is for McCain to lose both the White House and the state of Arizona.

Posted by: ldb1 | November 2, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Since Obama refused open debates, we had to wait for unscripted slips.

Did anyone, even Fox News, clearly point out that Obama did not reject the label of “Socialist”? Now that he has been outed by “Joe the plumber”, that would be difficult. He just said that those who are not Socialists are just “selfish”!

Now that he has agreed that he is a Socialist, read a bit more from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism:
“Socialism is not a discrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and program; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionism and economic rationalization, sometimes opposing each other. Another dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split on how a socialist economy should be established between the reformists and the revolutionaries. Some socialists advocate complete nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; while others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. Social democrats propose selective nationalization of key national industries in mixed economies combined with tax-funded welfare programs; Libertarian socialism (which includes Socialist Anarchism and Libertarian Marxism) rejects state control and ownership of the economy altogether and advocates direct collective ownership of the means of production via co-operative workers' councils and workplace democracy.
In the 1970s and the 1980s, Yugoslavian, Hungarian, Polish and Chinese Communists instituted various forms of market socialism combining co-operative and State ownership models with the free market exchange.[5] This is unlike the earlier theoretical market socialist proposal put forth by Oskar Lange in that it allows market forces, rather than central planners to guide production and exchange.[6] Anarcho-syndicalists, Luxemburgists (such as those in the Socialist Party USA) and some elements of the United States New Left favor decentralized collective ownership in the form of cooperatives or workers' councils.”

The only real issue is the degree of “social interventionism” he intends. We don’t have that information because the “media” are part of his campaign, rather than part of our expected “checks and balances”. Recall though that his “father figure” Frank Marshall Davis and his long time friend Bill Ayres were Marxists. By their philosophy, Socialism is just an intermediate state in the path to full “sharing”.

The current financial mess has its roots in a socialistic experiment to put people into homes they could not afford. We have already thrown in a billion dollars as the first pass at trying to fix the damage that did to our economy. Ready to “double down” on “more of the same” with Obama?

That “Change you can count on” Obama promises is from Capitalism to Socialism. Recall that he keeps saying what we have been trying isn’t working? He did say at the start of this campaign he would offer “a very different vision” for our nation.

Posted by: BillMillsinSterlingVA | November 2, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Give Drudge some credit today.

No more cherry-picked polls (well, actually there are no more for him to pluck from, they all have O up 5 or more, including CBS, O +13, Gallup, O up 10, RCP poll of polls, O up 6.9; O ahead in every battleground state, and competitive in many red ones, e.g., MO). Also Drudge has a great inspirational silhouette of O, against lighting that naturally forms a cross, over the headline "The Righteous Wind."

It appears, on Nov. 4, America, unless frustrated by trickeration, will choose hope over hate, the future over the past, calm over rage, peace over war, humanity over bigotry.

Also...

John Reid=Lone Ranger
Bruce Wayne=Batman
Don Diego de la Vega=Zorro
DorchesterAndCongress=37thandO??????

Cut it out, 37thandO alley!

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 2, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse


.

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If there was a white Presidential candidate who was found to be a member of a racist church, same as the Rev. Wright's church except substitute "white values" for "black values" and visa vera, THE MEDIA WOULD BE IN TOTAL ATTACK MODE AGAINST THAT WHITE CANDIDATE.


OBAMA IS A RACIST - OBAMA HAS GIVE $20,000.00 TO A RACIST CHURCH IN ONE YEAR.


Washington Post - there are a lot of Churches in Chicago which are black and which are not racist - Obama did not have to give $20,000.00 to this one Church - STOP GIVING OBAMA A PASS ON HIS RACISM AGAINST WHITES.


WAKE UP WASHINGTON POST WAKE UP MEDIA.


WAKE UP AMERICA.


.


.


Exactly right he's racist. Just listen to Irreverend Wrong, his pastor for many, many years.


Exactly right he's socialist. Just listen to him admit it to Joe the Plumber, or his interviews in the past.


Exactly right he's a rotten human being. Just look at his abortion voting record.


Exactly right he has questionable judgment. Just look at his associations with people in his past.


Exactly right he's corrupt. Just look at the Rezko land deal.


Exactly right he's a liar. Just look at what he says about taxes vs. how he's actually voted.


Exactly right he has no executive experience. Just look at his resume -- or lack thereof.


Exactly right he's secretive. Just look at his lack of birth certificate, SAT scores, grades, etc. etc., etc.


Exactly right he'll be challenged in his first 6 months of office if elected. Just look at what he says about meeting unconditionally with world leaders.


We cannot be SERIOUS about electing this guy!! Obama in charge of nukes?! What. The.


Sorry George Washington, we messed everything up.


We stopped demanding the best people in the White House.


.


.

Posted by: DorchesterAndCongress | November 2, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the argument that the economic crises is the only reason Obama pulled ahead holds much water. The economic crises was landscape which both campaigns tried to paint a portrait of. The landscape might have favored Obama, but he already had plenty of landscape to paint (see "Bush Presidency".) Without the shift towards voters really trusting Obama, the collapse wouldn't have helped him and IMHO, the debates were the best way for Obama to connect.

Posted by: theamazingjex | November 2, 2008 4:44 AM | Report abuse

I am often stunned by the uneducated comments I see in response to this blog. Chris is doing his best to inform those who consider this election important and he deserves better than the comments of the far right.

This election is about the failed Bush Presidency. When are we going to all realize that? It is fundamentally an across-the-board repudiation of the Republican Party from Presidency to House.

Those who are too stupid to realize that do not deserve recognition. It's a "throw the bums out" election. This is a good thing for American democracy. We are in the process of holding a party accountable for the policy failures on its watch-----we as an electorate are exercising responsibility and accountability.

The nation will be better served as a result. Now the big question becomes "To what extent will Obama and the Congressional Democratic majority be able to right the ship?"

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | November 2, 2008 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 2, 2008 4:01 AM | Report abuse

"... during this most historic of races."

Well, I wholeheartedly concur that it's historic, but not for the reasons that I've seen posited.

This is the first election in about fifty years which marginalized television. The networks were so unimportant that one candidate (for whom I intend to vote, by the way) bought them one night, and many of us didn't bother to watch. The internet has been a powerful factor for years, but this year it truly came into its own. The tubes rule!

Posted by: bobsewell | November 2, 2008 3:21 AM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh Tibune-Review 11/2/08

Welcome to the 2008 presidential race. This nation's liberal elite and its predominantly liberal media have anointed as the next president Democrat Barack Obama, 47, the junior senator of Illinois.

The liberal tutorial is that Sen. Obama is a visionary, a man of hope, if not the political equivalent of the Second Coming. And a plurality of the student body appears to accept this at face value. But Obama has sparse political experience, no executive experience, no leadership experience, really, and woefully little experience at much of anything.

That is, other than rationalizing quite leftist and collectivist views that include everything from the worst of command economics -- sure to turn recession into depression -- to perverting the U.S. Constitution by making it and the Supreme Court some kind of rule-of-law relative social re-engineering tool.

Talk about manifest danger.

The only truly experienced leader in this race -- the gentleman whose resume actually is worthy of the phrase -- is John McCain, 72, war hero, former congressman and longtime U.S. senator of Arizona.

John McCain is fiercely independent. And he makes no apologies for the principles he holds dear, even if they be at odds with the traditional party base. But he has never wavered in his core belief of what Republicanism (with a capital "R") and republicanism (with a lower-case "r") are all about:

Small government. Fiscal discipline. Low taxes. A strong defense. And a judiciary that does not legislate from the bench.

Compared with Barack Obama's long and dangerous statist laundry list of the ever more expansive role government should play in our lives, John McCain sums it up quite succinctly, quite effectively and quite nicely, thank you.

Indeed, we have differences that are more than quibbles with some of Sen. McCain's positions. We stridently disagree with his campaign finance and immigration "reform" efforts. And we've told him so face to face.

But it being, as once was written, a golden rule that one should never judge men by their opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them, it would be imprudent of us to allow our respectful differences to preclude our support.

Thus, we again today wholeheartedly endorse John McCain for president of the United States. For it really is time to stand up and fight.

Posted by: thecannula | November 2, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

SEN. OBAMA IS TRYING TO CONCEAL THE FACT THAT HIS ECONOMIC POLICIES WILL BE DISASTEROUS FOR AMERICANS. He does this by changing the topic about the disastrous results of his policy to criticism about Rep. not wanting to help low income Americans --remember, Reps. are not saying that they don’t want to help people but that Sen. Obama’s policies will produce disastrous results.


* Poor people, black people, brown people, middle class and rest of Americans are now understanding that SEN. OBAMA FREE MONEY ECONOMIC POLICIES ARE A SLIPPERY SLOPE THAT WILL LEAD AMERICANS INTO HELPLESSNESS AND AN UNFULLING LIFESTYLE. Giving Americans free money will cause them to sit back and not learn the hard lessons necessary for survival. With a lack of problem solving skills, they will then become more and more dependent on Gov. to solve their problems. They will then be unable to shape their world and pursue their dreams --a very degrading and unfulfilling lifestyle.

* Also, Sen. Obama wants to give business free money for various reasons. This is not a good idea because ineffective businesses would be rewarded under Sen. Obama’s plan. This is a waste of money and an encouragement of bad behavior. A more effective system for rewarding businesses would be to let the customer decide whether or not to monetarily reward a business --free market system.

* Also, Sen. Obama proposes raising taxes during a weak economy --a recipe for prolong recession.

* Under Sen. McCain economic plan, Sen. McCain will give Americans entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs, and opportunities to develop skills rather than free money. This will give Americans independence, dignity, and freedom to pursue his/her dreams.

* It is OK to help Americans in an emergency or when Americans cant help themselves. However, giving healthy people and businesses free money will lead to bad results.

Posted by: lazerboy | November 2, 2008 1:50 AM | Report abuse

* Also, Sen. Obama wants to give business free money for various reasons. This is not a good idea because ineffective businesses would be rewarded under Sen. Obama’s plan. This is a waste of money and an encouragement of bad behavior. A more effective system for rewarding businesses would be to let the customer decide whether or not to monetarily reward a business --free market system.

* Also, Sen. Obama proposes raising taxes during a weak economy --a recipe for prolong recession.

* Under Sen. McCain economic plan, Sen. McCain will give Americans entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs, and opportunities to develop skills rather than free money. This will give Americans independence, dignity, and freedom to pursue his/her dreams.

* It is OK to help Americans in an emergency or when Americans cant help themselves. However, giving healthy people and businesses free money will lead to bad results.

Posted by: lazerboy | November 2, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Funnier than John McCain on SNL-

The 5 Greatest Jokes of 2007-8:

1. I could no more disavow Rev Wright than I could an Uncle: I never in 20 years heard him say anything controversial

2. Allowing Mrs Rezko to buy me a sideyard was a Bonehead Move

3. Bill Ayres was a guy in my neighborhood:our kids knew each
other: I didn't know about his Weatherman background

4. Khalidi was a guy in my neighborhood: I didn't about know his PLO background

5. I didn't know my Aunt was in America


Posted by: thecannula | November 2, 2008 1:43 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans can have Joe the Plumber. The real-life Average American, the nation's actual most statistically average man or woman, discovered after a long non-partisan search, has come out for Obama, according to the search's website: http://www.theaverageamerican.com

Posted by: worldview1 | November 1, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I think the debates became important as the financial crisis unfolded, or blossomed. This was all very bad timing for the Republicans. I remember telling my business partner in July that we might be facing a Great Depression-like event soon, but I truly had no idea is would come quite so soon.

I was actually thinking around the time frame between the election and inauguration. One wonders what history might look like had the timing been slightly different.

As it is the Republicans have done a remarkable job, all things considered. They have managed to convince working people that policies that favor wealthy people will be good for them. Their skill at getting people to pay attention to irrelevant things or believe outright lies is amazing and frightening.

Being an electrifying speaker, or somehow "hitting it out of the park" is beside the point. The debates showcased a smart, reasonable, and thoughtful person. The financial crisis highlighted the fact that a different approach is required for us to succeed as a country.

Posted by: jwallace1 | November 1, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

McCain knows all about bailing out rich bankers and screwing over middle class and poor people, he's been doing it for years.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAzDEbVFcg8
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McCain - Founding Member of the Keating 5:


McCain was one of the "Keating Five," congressmen investigated on ethics charges for strenuously helping convicted racketeer Charles Keating after he gave them large campaign contributions and vacation trips.


Charles Keating was convicted of racketeering and fraud in both state and federal court after his Lincoln Savings & Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $3.4 billion. His convictions were overturned on technicalities; for example, the federal conviction was overturned because jurors had heard about his state conviction, and his state charges because Judge Lance Ito (yes, that judge) screwed up jury instructions. Neither court cleared him, and he faces new trials in both courts.)


McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating after Keating gave McCain at least $112,00 in contributions. In the mid-1980s, McCain made at least 9 trips on Keating's airplanes, and 3 of those were to Keating's luxurious retreat in the Bahamas. McCain's wife and father-in-law also were the largest investors (at $350,000) in a Keating shopping center; the Phoenix New Times called it a "sweetheart deal."


McCain was not convicted of any crimes, though the Senate concluded that he exercised "poor judgment." (Furthermore, he got off on some charges by a technicality -- that he was still in the House when he took those vacation trips, and so the Senate couldn't prosecute him. The House concluded that THEY couldn't prosecute him because he had moved to the Senate.)


Here's some mavericky straight-talk, my friends:
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http://www.realchange.org/mccain.htm
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Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Palin is like Darth Cheney Jr.


Is Palin a Whack Job?


YOU BETCHA!


Whack Job: noun - A crazy, possibly dangerous, person.
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http://www.allwords.com/word-whackjob.html
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Politico brings word that McCain advisors are upping the verbal leak campaign against Sarah Palin, who must long for the days when members of her campaign were calling her a hockey mom and Joe Six-Pack.

A top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless "diva" description, calling Palin "a whack job."
.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/28/palin-a-whack-job-top-mcc_n_138523.html
.


Whack job. It's a good charge, cause it's true! This is one of my favorite leaks from the anti-Palin forces working for McCain, right up with the claim that she's "going rogue." Like Iran?


I've never seen a breakdown in discipline like this on a presidential campaign. It testifies to McCain's lack of leadership and to the state of his campaign. Knowing they're going to lose, Mittens' kittens are angling for advantage against Palin going into the 2012 primary.


Ah, yes, the coming GOP primary. Fantasize, my friends, with me. It's 2011, Obama and the Democrats in Congress have passed good progressive legislation to help bring us out of recession, institute universal health care, and end our dependence on foreign oil. Our troops are home from Iraq. Then we will all get to sit back and watch Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and whoever else fight for the right to lose to Obama.
.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Just in: CBS Poll -- BHO by THIRTEEN (13), 19 among early voters.

Thank you for coming.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 1, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

The October surprise ball was booted, unless a report that a distant Kenyan relative of Senator Obama is living in Boston “illegally” is the perfect mole hill upon which a political mountain may be built. A Senator McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds, said his campaign had no comment. That is a shame since it is the perfect fodder upon which the Alaskan running mate likes to graze, but I digress. The real problem with the story is that it has limited television appeal, compared with the presidential debates which were all about television appeal.

The RNC has shown little interest in vetting anyone or anything. However, it sure thinks it knows the importance of television appeal. That is why the RNC booted the “hockey mom” ball with its concern about the Palin makeover. Television appeal is how the RNC booted the “Joe the Plumber” ball when they gave a real person a television name (I’m Joe Plumber, RNC News.) They would have been better off hiring an actor.

Television appeal is how the RNC booted the “Presidential debate” ball. Perhaps it would have better for their standard bearer had the debates been broadcast in black and white – McCain would have come across like Ike and Obama a skinny college kid. Following along that line, it would have better had the debates been broadcast on radio – the skinny kid would have come across like a crooner and Ike would still be Ike.

Twenty years ago ABC News claimed, “More people get their news from ABC than from any other source.” Although a frightening concept at the time, the network can no longer make such a claim. CNN put the debate solidly in the television appeal category, as opposed to a content substance category, with its goofy, color coded crawling graphic. In so doing CNN reduced the candidates to being the red guy and the blue guy with an imaginary green guy in between the two.

Television reduced the debates to an extended, three part infomercial, a ball booted by the vice presidential debate. There is more that television does than suck the substance out of things, it allows for the substance to reappear on the web, such as http://bravenewfilms.org/blog/39179-mccain-s-youtube-problem-just-became-a-nightmare . It also pays Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.

http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/

Posted by: teamac | November 1, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

The debates were supposed to highlight Obama’s knowledge on the economy, but it took Joe the plumber to get a clear statement of his objectives.

“All socialists advocate the creation of an egalitarian society, in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly, although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how, and to what extent this could be achieved.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism]

Obama has clearly stated his mission is to “spread the wealth”. His response to the labeling of him as “socialist” was to just call those who do not agree with that principle “selfish”!

While Obama’s stated belief is seriously dangerous, the key risk is that we don't know which branch(es) of the broad theory he actually believes. Given what we do know of his previous associations, it is unlikely the Professor’s beliefs are developed only to the extent of justifying taking money from the advantaged though taxes and giving it as gifts to whomever he considers disadvantaged. To Marxists like his “father figure” Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayres, Socialism is just an intermediate state in the path to full “sharing”.

Socialism is not a 21st century idea; its “spread the wealth” concept is almost as old as recorded history. Tried big time in the 20th century, it crashed with the Soviet Union. Some people just didn’t get the memo.

Trusting this ideologue and the present radical leftist congress to implement their version of “change” is likely to cause damage from which it will take this nation decades, if ever, to recover.

Posted by: BillMillsinSterlingVA | November 1, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

For most of us the debates were the first time that we had a good look at Obama and we began to understand where all the enthusiasm was coming from. today I saw the end product of all that enthusiasm. I volunteered to work the phones for Obama after the Democratic party called this week to request my presence at this event. I got there at the appointed time and had to stand in line to get my assigned place at the phones.They handed each of us three sheets 11X7 with columns listing phone numbers, names, whether or not they had received an early ballot and the result of our calls. I did not count them but the letters were small and there were probably about 60-70 names on each sheet. We were assigned a station and given a phone and a person was assigned to each 8-10 of us to answer questions we might have. We were told not to argue with people, time was too short for that. Just tell them where their poling place is and remind them to go vote. It took me 2 hrs to make those calls and when I requested more sheets I was politely told that while this was appreciated thjere was a long line of people waiting for my phone. The point is that they7 had so many volunteers they did not know what to do with them. The same was true for people going door to door. They had more than they could handle. Such enthusiasm I have never seen before not even during the first Clinton campaign and I have been involved in politics for fifty years. And this in a State that is still supposedly red!

Posted by: Opa2 | November 1, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

The debates had no significant affect.

Without the recession Democrats had been trying to talk up but do nothing to avert for the last two years actually occurring, the numbers would be reversed. McCain was at least trying to avert public panic that could only worsen the problem. The Democrats had been shouting fire in the crowded theater to further their own interests. Same Party over country Democrat politics.

There were no “bailout negotiations” prior to McCain stating he intended to return, just Democrats shoveling pork, like money for Acorn, into their bill. They had shut out Republicans, but intended to blame them for the bill, win or lose. Same Party over country Democrat politics. If McCain hadn’t pushed the President to publicly air the stunt and force inclusion of the Republicans, we would have had a useless pile of pork and no action. Obama just showed up after his hand was forced, and tried unsuccessfully to help the Democrat’s fiction that there was already some deal.

After starting this mess with the socialist experiment of encouraging people into houses they could not otherwise afford. The Democrats killed any attempt to regulate Fanny and Freddy through the 60 vote rule. In power the last two years, they deliberately refused to take action to deign Bush any “victories”, and encourage just the kind of economic disaster that occurred. Same Party over country Democrat politics.

Posted by: BillMillsinSterlingVA | November 1, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

It'll be nice if this question can be answered empirically, but for now I'm just very pleased and grateful that the Obama campaign realized that the debates presented them with a golden opportunity to show that their candidate is as safe as non-Chinese milk.

Posted by: SethKnoepler | November 1, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Our economy is structurally sound for the long term"
*George W Bush - Feb 11, 2008


"The American people can remain confident in the soundness and the resilience of our financial system"
*Henry Paulson - Sept 15, 2008


"The economy is fundamentally sound"
*Herbert Hoover - October, 1931


"The fundamentals of our economy are strong"
*John McCain - Sept 15, 2008
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcdLO3jKkPo
.


McCain does not have the ability to fix this economic crisis. After declaring the fundamentals of the economy strong, he created a political circus in Washington by mucking up bailout negotiations; a deplorable campaign stunt, considering he and his political cronies helped cause the current meltdown.


It was McCain and his economic adviser Phil Gramm who pushed for the deregulation that helped lead to the banking crisis, and it was McCain's crony Rick Davis who had deep lobbyist ties to Freddie Mac. Don't let others be fooled by McCain's economic grandstanding because the reality is his policies and principles will only exacerbate our financial hardships.


McCain is being deceitful with his sudden populist message and support for regulation; his economic policies still favor our nation's wealthy elite.
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4egXbhSOhk
.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Palin is a Freeloader


$150,000 shopping sprees (at all the best "elitist" shops, no less), on the Republican National Committee tab.
.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14805.html
.


$21,012 worth of free flights for her daughters, charged to the state of Alaska.
.
http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/articles/2008/10/22/alaska_paid_for_palin_daughters_to_travel/
.


All this, when she already makes $125,000 a year as governor and pockets an extra $22,883 in energy extraction royalties.


Palin is a chisler supreme.


All of which makes the fact that she charged $16,951 in expenses charged to the state, including 312 per diem allowances for staying in her own home just that much more amazing.
.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/08/AR2008090803088.html
.


A dual income family, with Sarah earning $125K. Free travel (even for the family), and now free clothes, hair and makeup. They can actually go out in her backyard and shoot a moose, keeping her family in free mooseburger for a year. And still she feels the need to cheat. Shoot that moose for free and still charge the state $60 per burger. And she claims she deserves every bit of it.


Now that's what I call a perverse sense of entitlement.


"Sounds like socialism to me," to borrow a phrase.


Just another fake "bootstrapper" Republican. What a shocker.


Meanwhile, we all have to endure the indignity of Palin turning the campaign for the Vice Presidency into some kind of FOX reality TV makeover show, where they take some ridiculously not-ready-for-prime-time pol and dress her up, push her out on the stage, and see if they can turn her into a VP in 10 weeks.


What the f^ck, right? It's just being second in line to the nuclear launch codes. No big thing. We could even do a whole co-promotional deal with moose sandwiches at Subway.


Thanks, Republicans. You sure do love our country n' stuff and goodluck to you in your newly minted 4th party gadfly status starting in 2009.
.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I hope that it will be possible to use empirical data to answer this question. For the time being, I for one was very pleased and grateful for the way that the Obama campaign apparently realized that the debates presented them with a golden opportunity to show the electorate that their candidate was as safe as (non-Chinese) milk.

Posted by: SethKnoepler | November 1, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

MCCAIN IS OUT OF TOUCH WITH MIDDLE-CLASS AMERICA'S ECONOMIC TROUBLES!
McCain in April 08 declared that there had been "great progress economically" during the Bush years. On more than one occasion, he diagnosed Americans' concerns over the dismal U.S. economy as "psychological." (Phil Gramm, McCain's close friend and economic adviser supposedly excommunicated over his "whiners" remarks, is back with the McCain campaign full time again.) McCain, a man who owns eight homes nationwide, in March lectured Americans facing foreclosure that they ought to be "doing what is necessary -- working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets -- to make their payments on time." And when all else fails, McCain told the people of the economically devastated regions in Martin County, Kentucky and Youngstown, Ohio, there's always eBay. McCain doesn't understand our tanking economy because it doesn't affect him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FD_M2BEl64

The $100 Million Man
Courtesy of his wife Cindy's beer distribution fortune (one her late father apparently chose not to share with her half-sister Kathleen), the McCains are worth well over $100 million. (In the two-page tax summary she eventually released to the public, Cindy McCain reported another $6 million in 2006.) As Salon reported back in 2000, the second Mrs. McCain's millions were essential in launching her husband's political career. Unsurprisingly, the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti, who four years ago called Theresa Heinz-Kerry a "sugar mommy," has been silent on the topic of Cindy McCain.

The Joys of (Eight) Home Ownership
While fellow adulterer John Edwards was pilloried for his mansion, John McCain's eight homes around the country have received little notice or criticism. His properties include a 10 acre lake-side Sedona estate, euphemistically called a "cabin" by the McCain campaign, and a home featured in Architectural Digest. The one featuring "remote control window coverings" was recently put up for sale. Still, their formidable resources did not prevent the McCains from failing to pay taxes on a tony La Jolla, California condo used by Cindy's aged aunt.

The Anheuser-Busch Windfall
While John McCain played a critical role in facilitating DHL's takeover of Airborne (and with it, the looming loss of 8,000 jobs in Wilmington, Ohio), Cindy McCain is set to earn a staggering multi-million dollar pay-day from the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian beverage giant, In Bev. As the Wall Street Journal reported in July, Mrs. McCain runs the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the nation, and owns between $2.5 and $5 million in the company's stock.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek3jAkx9m10
.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

The debates mattered. We got to see a vibrant, intelligent, thoughtful young man weave his thought process upon the screen. Also, a confused, mean old crotchety man caromed around the stage and displayed his lack of deep thought for the most important position upon this planet. The two images put together for the US public showed who we want for president and sealed the deal for Obama and McCain threw himself under the bus. This has worked out as I had wished it would have for RFK against RMN if he had been allowed to get that far. From the time I saw Obama back in the winter he has reminded me of the mental image I have of RFK frozen in my mind from 40 years ago. And McCain is just a tired old man, no more ethics, no new ideas, it is just my turn to be president and you owe me, I have the scars to prove it.

Posted by: optodoc | November 1, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

TOP TEN REASONS i've decided at the last minute to change my vote from obama to mccain: 1. my racist instincts have kicked in and i just can't vote for obama. 2. i have a "HUSSEIN" problem. 3. socialism is just flat wrong and that goes for all of our allies in europe and canada who have made it work regardless of our interference. 4. we should nuke "em. 5. then nuke iran 6. then n. korea 7. and then anyone who messes with israel 8. china? (what would that do to the walmart shoppers?) 9. nuke russia 10. turn over the entire operation of the govt. to jack welch and general electric(now theres a bunch of guys who know how to run profitable war)..... and in the end we can blame it all on CANADA(commie s.o.b's) yep thats right CANADA.....just like in the south park movie cause our prez. doesn't need to be right, just one tough s.o.b. OR maybe he just needs to be a tad bit crazy.

Posted by: wa_idaho_lonewolf | November 1, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

As for the debates, its kind of hard to tell the individual effect of the polls themselves. Remember, there were a lot of things going on at once. First you had the Lehman crash, you also had the debates, you also had the natural decay of McCain's RNC bounce. A good debate is probably worth about two points in the polls. Perhaps it was worth more for Obama since there were still some questions as to how he would deal with many of the problems facing the country. It was also the first time many people really got to experience Obama the candidate rather than Obama the phenomenon.

Don't forget, after the Lehman crash, McCain lost about ten points over two weeks. That's a HUGE decline and you can't attribute that to any one thing. I'd say maybe 15-20% of Obama's surge was because of the first two debates.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 1, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

The debates mattered because the Big Republican Campaign Machine was in full force trying to paint Obama as some sort of radical terrorist-sympathizer for much of the pre-debate period. And then Obama walked on stage and showed that he is poised, he is thoughtful, and he is reasonable. By the end of the third debate, even hard-core Republicans were praising his temperament.

The McCain campaign's attempt to position Obama as a radical failed to gain traction with moderate voters because of his unflappable performance in the debates.

Posted by: tsawyer_mv | November 1, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

The national polls seem to have been relatively stable since the second presidential debate. I'd say that all three debates mattered, but with somewhat diminishing returns, which is more or less what you'd expect when one candidate is seen as winning every one (and thus playing for increasingly harder-to-convince voters in each successive debate).

Posted by: apelavin | November 1, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"O TOTALLY ON TOP OF BOGUS AUNT SMEAR PUSHED BY DRUDGE HEADLINE"

It doesn't really seem like the Druge headlines are driving the news anymore. Nothing I ever see on there has really been taking hold.

Of course, I don't really watch cable news, so that may be a factor.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 1, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

There's no way to parse out how much the debates contributed to Obama's lead because they were contemporaneous with all the economic turmoil that polls showed helped Obama. At the same time, one cannot count out the debates, as they were a big part of the response to the economic crisis(including the mere occurance of the first one).

In the face of crisis, what mattered for the candidates was that they appeared confident and composed. Because McCain was trailing, his campaign felt it had to do more than that and so they tried suspending the campaign, harsher personal attacks, and even anger (third debate) to counter Obama's message.

Unfortunately, Obama's combination of composure and consistent response to attacks without countering too negatively functioned as a stiff-arm to McCain's efforts-making him look like the more trustworthy to handle an economic crisis.

Posted by: sfcpoll | November 1, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

"DDAWD:
538 did have an article for that zogby poll last night called Trick or Treat, Do You Spook Easily.
Here is an excerpt (by Nate Silver):"

Oh yeah, I remember that one, kind of (I was a little intoxicated at the time. You don't have to be ten to have fun on Halloween)

It wasn't included in yesterday's polling compilation. Maybe it will be in today's.

Just strange that I'm not seeing it anywhere.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 1, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"What did Bush say, Fool me one and shame on me, you can fool me once but you can't fool me twice!"

Not even close. Of course you (and Bush) got the first part of the aphorism right, but he mangled the second part quite differently.

As I remember it, it was "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, uh, [pause for gears to grind slowly] you can't be fooled again."

Posted by: RealCalGal | November 1, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

O TOTALLY ON TOP OF BOGUS AUNT SMEAR PUSHED BY DRUDGE HEADLINE

This excerpt from politico.com (and how good is Axelrod, totally all over this smear). [Remember, as NHO reminded recently, power does not concede easily]:

"“The American people are pretty sensible,” Axelrod said, “and I think they are pretty suspicious of things that are dumped in the marketplace 72 hours before a campaign, so I am not concerned about that.”

Asked whether he was suggesting there were political motives from a Republican administration, Axelrod said: “I am not saying anything at this point.”"

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 1, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Our thought is that debates mattered little - that is because of the mass communications of modern technology - the campaigns have been witnessed by most of us. We submit the result is a choice between an Obama Nation and an Abomination. ...........


http://thefiresidepost.com/2008/11/01/obamanation-or-abomination/

Posted by: glclark4750 | November 1, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

BREAKING:

Sarah Palin is pranked--extensively--by a false French President "Nicholas Sarkozy."

As the call becomes more and more farcial and unbelievable--as the "President", swears, makes double entendres, and sings, all in an exaggerated French accent, she continues. She never discovers it until it is revealed:

headofstate.blogspot.com/2008/11/shes-ready.html

Listen, and decide how she might respond to a false Vladimir Putin.

Posted by: caraprado1 | November 1, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHA!!!


YOU CAN'T ASK FOR WORSE PRE-ELECTION KARMA THAN THIS!


Dick The VP Throws McCain Under The Bush:


The least popular vice president in history endorses McCain, his personal choice to succeed the least popular President (Bush) in history.
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3Y8n9FWz4E
.


In Barack Obama's prepared remarks for Pueblo, CO, he congratulated McCain on getting on Dick the VP's endorsement:


President Bush is sitting out the last few days before the election. But earlier today, Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location and hit the campaign trail. He said that he is, and I quote, "delighted to support John McCain."


I’d like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it. That endorsement didn’t come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it. He served as Washington’s biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq, and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years. So Senator McCain worked hard to get Dick Cheney’s support.


But here’s my question for you, Colorado: do you think Dick Cheney is delighted to support John McCain because he thinks John McCain’s going to bring change? Do you think John McCain and Dick Cheney have been talking about how to shake things up, and get rid of the lobbyists and the old boys club in Washington?
.
http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1108/Obama_knocks_Cheney_vote.html?showall
.


DON'T GET DICKED BY CHENEY, PEOPLE!!!


OBAMA/BIDEN 08!
GOTV TUESDAY NOVEMBER 4th, 2008!
.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations McCain for your Dick Cheney endorsement. There's NO doubt Bush is in your corner as well with your policies AND philosophy: screw the nation and be willfully ignorant on important issues. No real judgment required, or thought process. Nevermind your VP decision, or the state of this country. I'm glad they chose your ticket; it is very telling.

I'll stick with the ticket with characteristics on the contrary and for the benefit of this country. Country First coming Tuesday!
America '08
Obama/Biden

Posted by: Obama2008 | November 1, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Excerpt from Gallup:

"Barack Obama leads John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily tracking interviewing conducted Wednesday through Friday by an identical 52% to 42% margin among both traditional likely voters and expanded likely voters. Obama leads by a similar 52% to 41% margin among all registered voters."

Drudge has shifted focus away from the polls (which mostly show Mac going down with the ship, big time) to an ugly smear job against O's immigrant aunt. Sadly, Mac/Phalin have elected to go out, not with dignity, but in disgrace. Ugly stuff.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 1, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

This is sort of a "chicken or egg" type of question. BHO's poll numbers reached their nadir a little after the end of the GOP convention. By the time the debates rolled around, he was already trending upward, and pretty significantly at that (check the trend lines at pollster.com or fivethirtyeight.com).

I think BHO's debate performances were an important part of allowing the electorate to see him as a calm, thoughtful person in the face of the hysteria of the economic collapse and bailout politicking. However, during the same time, McC was making blunders (suspending/unsuspending his campaign, etc.) and SHP's interviews with Gibson and Couric came out. So, to say that the debates "fundamentally shaped or re-shaped the race" is a gross over-simplification of the events that occurred. Were they helpful for BHO? Sure. Would BHO's poll numbers have continued to climb if the debates didn't happened? Probably, but that's a hypothesis we'll never be able to test.

Posted by: mnteng | November 1, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the knowledge, Cyclopsina.

Drudge is up to his old cherry-picking tricks. Fortunately they will end with the final poll on Nov. 4.

Good news: RCP poll of polls is at 6.6 (O was +5.9 early this week, pre-message of hope). Gallup traditional and expanded polls both at 10, I think the highest O has been in those polls. NYT says O up 11. Does BHO have the MO? You betcha! And how good has Numbers Nate Silver been this election? He is truly the bogus pollster's worst nightmare.
_______

"538 did have an article for that zogby poll last night called Trick or Treat, Do You Spook Easily.
Here is an excerpt (by Nate Silver):

Matt Drudge is touting the results of a one-day sample in a Zogby poll, which apparently showed John McCain ahead by 1 point.

There are a couple of significant problems with this.
Firstly, there is a reason that pollsters include multiple days of interviewing in their tracking polls; a one-day sample is extremely volatile, and have very high margins for error.

Secondly, the Zogby polls have been particularly volatile, because he uses nonsensical party ID weightings, which mean that his weighting process involves making numbers doing naughty things that they usually don't like to do.

Thirdly, Zogby polls are generally a lagging rather than a leading indicator. This is because he splits his interviewing period over two days; most of the interviews that were conducted in this sample took place on Thursday night, with a few this afternoon. The reason this is significant is because lots of other pollsters were in the field on Thursday night, and most of them evidently showed good numbers for Obama, as he improved his standing in 6 of the 7 non-Zogby trackers.

Posted by: Cyclopsina | November 1, 2008 4:23 PM"

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 1, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

.

.

.

HA! BUSTED! Massachusetts now in play because of the ILLEGAL ALIEN question.

How many farming jobs has OBAMA'S AUNT taken from American workers?

Worse, this incident proves that OBAMA's citizenship credentials may be FLAWED! If his aunt was here illegally, the legality of OBAMA's BIRTH must be called into question. Was his mother the victim of an illegal impregnation?

AS AN ILLEGAL ALIEN, THIS WOMAN MUST BE SENT BACK TO MEXICO -- IMMEDIATELY!!!

I will refrain from gloating, though I must tell the OBAMA-BOTS - I TOLD you so!

.

.

..

Posted by: 37thand0St | November 1, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD:
538 did have an article for that zogby poll last night called Trick or Treat, Do You Spook Easily.
Here is an excerpt (by Nate Silver):

Matt Drudge is touting the results of a one-day sample in a Zogby poll, which apparently showed John McCain ahead by 1 point.

There are a couple of significant problems with this.
Firstly, there is a reason that pollsters include multiple days of interviewing in their tracking polls; a one-day sample is extremely volatile, and have very high margins for error.

Secondly, the Zogby polls have been particularly volatile, because he uses nonsensical party ID weightings, which mean that his weighting process involves making numbers doing naughty things that they usually don't like to do.

Thirdly, Zogby polls are generally a lagging rather than a leading indicator. This is because he splits his interviewing period over two days; most of the interviews that were conducted in this sample took place on Thursday night, with a few this afternoon. The reason this is significant is because lots of other pollsters were in the field on Thursday night, and most of them evidently showed good numbers for Obama, as he improved his standing in 6 of the 7 non-Zogby trackers.

Posted by: Cyclopsina | November 1, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby Poll 10/31/08

McCain-48 Obama-47- "

You know, I've never seen this poll result on any page except for Drudge. On his page, there was no clickable link to the actual poll. On the Reuter's page, the headline is that Obama is winning by 5 over McCain. RCP hasn't had McCain winning a poll in over a month and a half. Fivethirtyeight.com doesn't have McCain winning in a national poll for the entire month of October.

Can anyone corroborate this poll result?

Posted by: DDAWD | November 1, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The debates mattered alot. It gave people exaclty what the needed.

John McCain is an idiot. Barack Obama is quite intellegent and informed about the facts.

What did Bush say, Fool me one and shame on me, you can fool me once but you can't fool me twice!

Voting for McCain would be like fooling America twice! HEHE!

Posted by: vicbennettnet | November 1, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Preparedness of Sarah Palin to act as a vice-president has been a substantial debate.

Her judgment as well as her knowledge of foreign affairs is well illustrated here in a phone interview she had with a fake Nicolas Sarkosy: http://www.justiciers.tv/

Hilarious and pathetic. Choose wisely.

Posted by: bessette | November 1, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Kaiser's right as far as he goes. Not only did Obama achieve acceptance as a plausible president through his confident debate performance, but his stable approach compared to McCain's run-in-circles reaction to the economic meltdown made Obama seem more steady than the purportedly "tested" Republican.

Posted by: FlownOver | November 1, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Can you imagine four more years of hearing:

My Friends

My Friends

My Friends

over and over and over again?
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdBsv0uCT0c
.


OBAMA/BIDEN 08 - GOTV TUESDAY NOV 4th, 2008!
.

Posted by: DrainYou | November 1, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Public Housing is limited and is intended for the use of American Citizens and Legal Aliens.
SO, who is going to return the tax dollars Obama's aunt stole from us?
McCain and Palin both ignored this story at this morning's rallies, but I Want to know how Obama's aunt got away with living here Illegally (that means she broke immigration law, not one's sensibilities about teen pregnancy or party affiliation)for Five Years on a Tax Payer Funded Stipend IN Taxpayer Funded Housing!

Don't Most Illegal aliens HIDE from the Government?

This Illegal Alien has a nephew who's a Senator- Did you supply a little help for your aunt Obama?
You obviously knew about her- you WROTE about her in your memoirs!

America Cares-

Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby Poll 10/31/08

McCain-48 Obama-47-


Posted by: thecannula | November 1, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

From
Head of State:
headofstate dot blogspot dot com

Saturday, November 01, 2008
Pay No Attention To The Mudslingers Behind The Curtain

If you look at the comments sections of many major newspapers today, it looks as if the dark specters of every conspiracy theory have burst forth, like dying souls from the rapidly firming ground, in a last eruption of wild desperation.

At each moment, wild minds are frantically shooting mud at a wall to see if anything, anything can stick. This is what we call "conservative political thinking" at the end of a campaign in 2008.

These so-called principled leaders, so willing to stand--shocked, shocked!-- on hollow notions of principled behavior when they are questioned, are now engaged in a rapid-fire, panic-and-rage fueled mudfest, that only matches in hysteria the willingness to propel any notion, no matter how far-fetched or borderline delusional, into the torrent of mire that they hope, in their primary tactic of democratic process, clouds the eyes.

Let them scream. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain.

Let's end this vicious distortion of and distraction from our nation's needs.

Let's put this kind of politics to rest--with their final wail a reminder of what has preceded us.

And let's get to work on building and rebuilding tomorrow.

Cite:
Head of State:
headofstate dot blogspot dot com

Posted by: caraprado1 | November 1, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Undoubtedly, yes they did!

But so too did the bailout package and the "suspension" of the McCain campaign.

If you look at the polls, after the Republican convention,for about two weeks McCain and Obama were tied in the polls.

Then McCain pulled his stunt during the bailout negotiations and it back-fired. He lost at least 2% in the polls after that.

Following the first debate, however, Obama gained 5% and has been solidly in the lead thereafter by about 7%.

Posted by: el_barto | November 1, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The debates made all the difference.
America got to see Obama as a thoughtful, measured professional capable and ready to lead this country through this economic crisis and address the unrest abroad. And it saw on the other side an mean, angry, aging, bigoted fellow so narrow-minded he refused to shake his opponent's hand or use his given name in referencing him at the debates. It saw the image of hope on one side, the image of hate on the other. Calm on one side, and red-faced, teeth-clenching, vein-bursting, eyeball-popping unhinged rage on the other.

GALLUP: O UP 10!

Gallup's just in: both its traditional poll (which always undercounts O) AND its expanded poll show O at 10!!!!! (If you get a chance, use Drudge's tip screen, to send him news of the new Gallup nos. as I just did. Tell him also to stop the cherry picking, not that it will do any good.) Up double digits three days out. Wow.

BHO'll be the best president since, well, Josiah Bartlett went off the air. Absent trickeration (be careful about NC, GA, PA), BHO will be the 44th president of the U.S. You betcha. Wink. ;-)

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 1, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama appeared to me to be like the needle of a compass. Steady and adjusting to the situation. Comparatively I saw then and still do see McCain as more the windshield wiper approach. He is all over the map from end to end and back and forth. When you take his one most repeat idea, cut taxes, he appears steady and right in the lazy-boy with George W.

Posted by: gbw1954 | November 1, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Obama appeared to me to be like the needle of a compass. Steady and adjusting to the situation. Comparatively I saw then and still do see McCain as more the windshield wiper approach. He is all over the map from end to end and back and forth. When you take his one most repeat idea, cut taxes, he appears steady and right in the lazy-boy with George W.

Posted by: gbw1954 | November 1, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Obama appeared to me to be like the needle of a compass. Steady and adjusting to the situation. Comparatively I saw then and still do see McCain as more the windshield wiper approach. He is all over the map from end to end and back and forth. When you take his one most repeat idea, cut taxes, he appears steady and right in the lazy-boy with George W.

Posted by: gbw1954 | November 1, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

“Did you know that the Obama Campaign has deliberatley disabled security measures on their website in order to allow the free flow of cash from foreign countries into his campaign? Illegal cash that can’t be traced? Read this — it’s really shocking. www. cannonfire. blogs. dot com.
http://pumapac.org/

Posted by: thejaner | November 1, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Review the reviews of the debates immediately following them. After the first one, many analysts (including CC!) were leaning a bit towards John McCain because he was more forceful while Obama agreed with his opponent on several issues. The argument was that this made Obama look weak. Indeed, McCain picked up on this with an ad the next day. But, over the days following, it became clearer that Obama had used a better strategy - it gave him an aura of honesty, seriousness, and thoughtfulness.

The economic meltdown helped Obama, yes, but his debate performance made the economic meltdown more helpful to him.

Posted by: Kili | November 1, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I watched all of the debates and received numerous written comments and reaction papers from my political science and American History students on the debates,too.

I think John McCain demonstrated his mastery of the issues and showed the traits and talents that he honed to establish himself as a distinguished and accomplished US Senator.

Throughout the debates, Senator McCain remained...SENATORIAL. He seemed more like the chairman of a Senate committee than the President.

Barack Obama, in contrast gave the spot on appearance of responsiveness, gravitas and effectiveness that we expect in a President.

Judging from the debates alone, it might not be clear that Barack will hold up under the strains of the Oval Office... but if IS CLEAR THAT JOHN McCAIN HAS NO CLUE.

Posted by: pach12 | November 1, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse


For months I have been writing on this blog in support of Barack Obama. I have tried to push back on the lies and offer some arguments of why Mr. Obama is the right man and John Mccain is not. I don't really have any words left but I want to leave you with this.

BEFORE YOU VOTE VISIT THIS WEBSITE

http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnmccain.com/

BEFORE YOU VOTE YOU MUST READ THIS INFORMATION.

http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnmccain.com/cin_declassified_landing.htm

BEFOTE YOU VOTE YOU MUST WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY

http://www.mccainbetrayspows.com/

John Mccain is "Not" the man some of you may think he is. John Mccain is damaged goods. Perhaps due to an inherent personality flaw, or from his war experience John Mccain lacks any empathy for another human being. It has been shown many times in how he has treated his wives and others. He cares about no one but himself. He will lie cheat, steal and exploit anyone for his own selfish needs what ever they are at the time. He is not trustworthy nor an honorable man in any way. I don't really know what else to say. The last straw for me was when he added to his spiel a story about sitting on a flight deck of a carrier with a mission and a target during the Cuba missile crises. More lies by this self aggrandizing phony hero.

This is my closing argument I guess. Please do your own research if need be, it is not too late and protect our country from who would be a very sick and dangerous leader.

I am a veteran, I hold a
Bronze star
Distinguished Service Cross
Soldiers medal
2 Purple Hearts

As a helicopter crewman my job was to retrieve wounded soldiers from the battle field often under fire. I met and knew so many "REAL" heros, I have a very hard time watching and listening to John Mccain as he spews his lies and venom. John Mccain is a piece of filth and I lack the vocabulary to even put into words what a phony he really is. On November 4 you have a choice.

Posted by: popasmoke | November 1, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

LETS TALK ABOUT ALL OBAMAS LIES, HE EVEN HAS BEEN LYING TO THE PRESS!!

Posted by: JBRACALE | November 1, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA IS LYING TO THE PEOPLE AGAIN! THIS TIME IT IS ABOUT HIS ILEGAL AUNT!!!!!!!!!! WHY IS HE LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? IS THIS WHY HE WANTS TO GIVE ILLEGALS DRIVERS LI?
http://community.thenest.com/cs/ks/forums/thread/5112717.aspx

Posted by: JBRACALE | November 1, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

McCain and Palin are fighting for the prestige of being president and vice president, while Obama comes across as fighting for the issues to make our country morally and economically sound again.

This comes through in the way McCain and Palin concentrate on demeaning Obama's background, experience, etc. The issues are disguised in tax, socialism,liberalism, Joe the whoever, and whatever else type of rhetoric.

His maverick persona cast aside is shown in his rallies, where the expressions on McCain's face, when with gritted teeth he says and jabbing fist, he says: "We've got them just where we want them," are absolutely draconian.

These two are not to be trusted as the caretakers of our country's future...not by a long shot.

Posted by: susta505 | November 1, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I believe the debates swung more previously undecided voters Obama's way. He seemed knowledgeable and unflappable. McCain's "my friends" tic, wandering around on the stage, and eye contact problems didn't help his cause.

Posted by: Heron | November 1, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The debates certainly lacked bombshells. There was no single moment or quotable soundbite that stuck in the common consciousness.

However, I think the demeanor of the candidates certainly helped people become more comfortable with Barack Obama. He came off as even-keeled, reasonable, thoughtful and intelligent. John McCain, on the other hand, seemed tired, angry and condescending. This difference also spoke to the larger differences in tone between the two campaigns and reinforced the perception that Sen. McCain's campaign was based primarily on generating negative sentiment towards his opponent, rather than advocating for John McCain. I think this clear difference in style made it psychologically easier for voters to abandon a known quantity (Sen. McCain), for an unknown (Sen. Obama). I think it allayed some of the anxieties of Obama supporters and stoked the fears of McCain supporters.

Maybe less a "defining moment" and more another nail in the coffin.

Posted by: betweenthewars | November 1, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I have thought all along that the debates were going to be the critical and potentially decisive factor in this election. People need to feel comfortable with the President and the person who is invited into their living room every night for the next four years.

I did not anticipate the financial crisis, of course the line who can claim that is almost as long as the voting lines in NC. Obama's performance on the financial crisis, steady, deliberate, stating principles and then making them stick showed people he had the mettle. Whereas, McCain and his campaign suspension and then on again, -- dare say I erratic approach to the financial crisis I think was received if not visceally certainly subconsciously by the voters.

Add to the financial crisis the selection of Gov. Palin with her total lack of any foreign policy credentials and the complete slam of that pick by people like Secretary Powell and I believe you can sum up the election.

Throw all that in with the visuals and the fact that for most of the campaign Sen. McCain looked like he was filming Grumpy Old Men III.

Going back to the debates though, what struck me most was the points of reference each had. Sen. McCain kept referencing the Cuban Missile Crisis, Lebanon, Star Wars, ... his reference points were not even recent memory. Sen. Obama did not have a specific reference point in history per se but he was clearly not a Cold Warrior which Sen. McCain came across as. That personal centering point struck me very strongly being a history buff and a retired Navy Captain who spent one-third of my career during the Cold War.

Bottom line: debates were critical. Other issues mattered but one wants to be comfortable with the person sitting in your living room the next four years. Sen. Obama managed to create the comfort level, that is why he will most likely win on Tuesday.

Posted by: colemaninn | November 1, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

For me, the debates didn't matter much, except for the VP debate. After hearing and not hearing Gov. Palin, the VP debate convinced me that I was scared as hell to have her near the Oval Office.

Posted by: jrubin1 | November 1, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I would like to understand how Obama can be called a socailist by the republicans, while the Bush administration continues to support sending American jobs to Communist China? That doesn't seem to bother John McCain? Maybe they should debate that??

Posted by: MDaltonVF84 | November 1, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I personally thought that McCain's demeanor during the debates, whether it was not looking at Obama, rolling his eyes, or furiously writing down notes as his opponent spoke simply spoke about his temprament in such a way that had to affect how voters viewed him. Calling Obama "that one", which is what my seventy-six year old mother does when she can't remember our names, definitely aged him in my perception, and cemented my choice for Obama. I have been a lifelong republican in Idaho, so supporting a democrat for president is a big deal in my small world. The debates and the choice of Sarah Palin definitely validated my choice of Mr. Obama.

Posted by: tanderson3 | November 1, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Instant polling after each debate favored Sen. Obama; showed movement toward him on issues of personal trust. That would tend to support Kaiser's view.


Because Sen. MCCain did not lose ground on personal trust during the debates we cannot argue that the debates were ultimately determinative. But we can say that fear of an unknown Obama substantially evaporated for independents and for those who had not been following until then.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | November 1, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The debates made temperament the key issue.

Posted by: Rivery | November 1, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Our very own online concert for Obama/Biden '08

Leesha Harvey- Coal Train (Original)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VItmtAuWz0w


John Mellencamp - Small Town
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eDkAG3R0h8

Bruce Springsteen - Radio Nowhere
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmLt6kcZ72Q

Posted by: cooday | November 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"Conventional wisdom seems to be that they did not" - whose conventional wisdom? This is certainly not the impression I have gotten in my reading. I would say that Kaiser's view is much closer to conventional wisdom: the debates were an important factor, but not the only one. I must confess that my mind was not changed - I supported Obama before the debates and his performance only reinforced my view.

Posted by: wmw4 | November 1, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

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