Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

2nd Presidential Debate: Analysis

Posted by sanityinjection on October 8, 2008

I thought both candidates performed well last night. The “town hall” format was clearly much better for McCain than the format of the first debate. He held his own and scored some points against Obama, but Obama did not get rattled and had some good moments of his own, deftly working in prepared remarks without seeming obvious about it.  Overall, I would call it a tie.

Unfortunately for McCain, that’s not good enough. He needed a game-changing moment to try to reverse Obama’s rise in the polls, and he didn’t get it. It’s hard to imagine anyone having been swayed to switch their vote one way or another by last night’s debate.

The only new thing that came out of the debate was at the very beginning, when McCain came out in favor of a proposal to have Treasury buy out bad mortgages directly. I blogged about this recently, but as far as I know McCain is the first major politician to endorse the idea. Afterward, his campaign clarified that the $300 billion cost of this move should be paid for out of the $700 billion already authorized for the financial bailout. If that can actually be done, I’d support it. It would be the most significant step to date in actually helping ordinary Americans weather this crisis.

The problem for McCain is not that voters have singled out Republicans or the Bush Administration to blame for the economic crisis. On the contrary, most voters figure both parties are to blame. The problem is that the economic crisis plays perfectly into the theme of the Obama campaign – “Change”. Ordinarily, voters tend to be a bit cautious about change. I don’t think there’s any doubt that most voters believe that Obama does indeed represent change, in his very person if not in his plans for governance. In fact, the struggle for Obama has actually been to convince voters that he doesn’t represent a level of change that is more than they are comfortable with.

But when the economy is going south, and even the do-nothing Congress passes emergency legislation, implicitly acknowledging that “change” is indeed needed, I think a significant number of voters are taking the attitude that things can’t get much worse, so why not roll the dice on an unknown quantity like Obama, who has so far managed to avoid saying or doing anything too terrifying, or appearing to justify the criticism that he is not up to the task of being President.

With less than 30 days until the election, time is running out for McCain. A major event such as an economic turnaround or a foreign policy crisis could still rescue his candidacy, but if present trends continue, Barack Obama has a better than even chance of being the next President, mostly thanks to the folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here’s one of the better detailed analyses of the debate: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14381.html

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2 Responses to “2nd Presidential Debate: Analysis”

  1. movie fan said

    The candidates have a major difference in their leadership styles: McCain tends to say, “Follow me because the other guy can’t get it done” while Obama says, “Follow me because I can get it done.” Ideally, the candidates should say, “Follow me because i will help you get it done” … in any case, of the two of them Obama demonstrates a better leadership mentality

  2. sanityinjection said

    I’m not sure where you get that from. I have heard both candidates make both those kinds of statements repeatedly. In the last debate, McCain several times said, “I know how to do that” or “I know how to get that done.” Obama has based a lot of his campaign on blaming the Bush Adminsitration for just about everything.

    It is true that McCain has gone more negative of late in an attempt to reverse the polling trends. But that will only work if they have something new for the media to take hold oif – rehashing the Rev.Wright/Bill Ayers stuff at this point is unlikely to succeed because the media is bored with it.

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