CNN polls indicate that among their viewers Barack Obama won the presidential debate this evening. Not only that, the majority also believe that Obama would be better at making decisions regarding Iraq than McCain.
This is clearly going to devastate the McCain campaign. No matter what the happy little faces from the GOP are trying to say, it seems pretty obvious that the McCain campaign is now in serious trouble.needed to win this debate head over heels in order to make up for sliding numbers, and he just wasn't able to do that.
But probably the most important lesson from this debate was the character differences between the two candidates. From McCain I saw Regan-era, yesterday's news concepts over and over again (and clearly steering well away from anything having to do with Bush). McCain seemed unreasonably gruff about his stance with foreign countries, and seemed less willing to sit down with foreign heads the U.S. has avoided in the past when today's global environment clearly means a different approach is warranted.
Although McCain obviously was able to show more experience with foreign affair policies because he "lived through them", Obama was able to show he was highly capable of having these discussions and his willingness to open the table to countries who have been left out of these type of discussions for decades was commendable.
I do wish that Obama had been able to show a decisive win, but I don't think he had to show anything decisive for this to be a win for his campaign. All he really had to do was show voters that he WAS capable, he WAS knowledgeable and that he could handle himself well in difficult circumstances. Clearly he did that.
Here are a few things that really rubbed me the wrong way from this debate.
For Obama, I wish he would have provided more details on the economic issues, and the bailout. I know he couldn't say exactly, but I felt he was trying to sidestep the issue and not have to give specifics, which was frustrating. I also think he was far too diplomatic in allowing McCain to continue bantering when clearly he was taking advantage of the 5-minute discussion format. Although he did step in a few times, far too many times he simply raised his hand to Jim indicating "ah, I want to say something here". To me that came across as a little too mushy.
For McCain, did anyone else notice that NOT ONCE did John McCain look at Obama during the debate? Several times you see on camera Obama looking over to speak with McCain but McCain clearly seemed to be making an effort to completely ignore Obama, to the extent it was like he wasn't even there! This attitude, this aloof snub, seemed almost like backward pre-civil war to me. At least, that was the impression.
Also, the constant "Obama just doesn't understand". I know what he was trying to do with these statements, but I think it wasn't effective here. Clearly Obama DID understand. There may have been fundamental differences of opinion, but for McCain to allude that Obama didn't understand, and say so nearly 1/2 dozen times or more, I think made him look desperate. It especially made him look bad when he would say this right after Obama had clearly, eloquently, and very intelligently expressed his opinions on the issue at hand.
So, in my mind, this debate won the election for Obama. I have been arguing this fact with friends since the debate ended tonight, but I'm convinced that McCain's numbers will continue to decline. Here's why.
1) the economy issue will now be #1 priority from this point forward. As strong as McCain is on foreign policy, most voters aren't going to care - they will be worried about the bailout, which is in Obama's favor.
2) The Biden/Palin debate is coming up. After the terrible showing Palin made with the Couric interview, I think there's no question she'll botch it up. That will hurt McCain's numbers.
3) McCain seems to be very solid when things are going his way, but as soon as they aren't his stance becomes more aloof and gruff, and he angers easily. I only saw this once in the debate tonight, but you can bet it will be happening more and more in the coming weeks.
4) Finally, polls are now indicating that McCain's numbers are falling with the 50 and over set. This will kill his campaign. He has to count on a large senior citizen vote in order to come over the top of the minority and younger voters who will be out in record numbers this year. Losing this group will effectively quash any further momentum for his campaign.
There you have it! My take on this debate. I'd love to hear your thoughts!