Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate results, part II

So, 24 hours later who won the debate? It's a distinction worth mentioning. At the end of the debate, I thought it was pretty close to a draw. No knock-out blows, no gaffes and both men spoke knowledgeably about the issues.

However, 24 hours is a long time in post-debate spin. Both sides have had their partisans out in force, plus there's a veritable ton of media, bloggers and everyone else out there shooting off their opinions. Oh yes, and polls.

So who won? Obama, it appears. FiveThirtyEight has its usual excellent analysis of what happened with overnight polls. While pundits were saying it was a draw or maybe a small victory for McCain, people watching tended to favour it toward Obama. Plus, he seemed to have alleviated the worries of some voters on whether or not he's capable of being president.

The most interesting thing I've seen post-debate hasn't been a fixation on the issues, but on McCain's body language. It was something I noticed a bit last night. He never looked at Obama when they were debating. He had a hard time looking at him even when they were shaking hands. Talking Points Memo, an admittedly pro-Democrat site has an interesting theory - that it might not be condescension towards his opponent, as some thing, but rather an anger management issue. McCain is infamous for his temper and this might be his way of dealing with it. People with anger issues often don't make eye contact with people they're really pissed off with for fear they might lose it.

So that might explain the weirdness involving body language. There also appears to be some interest to see what Saturday Night Live will do this evening. Now, I'm long past think SNL is that influential, but their skit spoofing Sarah Palin a few weeks ago certainly caught fire. If they do one mocking McCain's body language, well, McCain could find himself having lost the PR spin batter despite not losing the debate. Impressive feat, really.

And things don't get any easier. There's the vice-president's debate on Thursday. And it's becoming increasingly evident that whatever love affair the Right might have had with Palin is over and done with. Some are really unhappy. And if you believe this report there appears to be genuine despair inside the McCain camp on how she will do on Thursday, having bombed in both a mock debate and press conference.

I tend to be wary about this sort of thing. Expectations games are being played all the time in debates and they can't possibly get much lower. So if she's not a complete blubbering idiot, then that will be a victory of sorts. Sadly, I won't be able to watch as I'll be on my way back to Newfoundland. But if she does crash and burn, on top of everything else that's happening in this race, McCain might be looking at a slaughter come November 4th.

Last Five
1. Love is a place - Metric
2. Ode to lrc - Band of Horses*
3. A stone would cry out - Sam Roberts
4. Spare parts II and closing - Tom Waits
5. A villa in Portugal - The Pursuit of Happiness


Megan said...

There is a rumour that Palin will be on SNL tonight. Interesting.

I watched the debate, and I thought it would have ended in a draw except that Obama kept having to correct things McCain said. McCain loses points for misrepresentations.

Edward G. Hollett said...

I didn't watch the thing religiously but caught snippets of it through the evening.

My gut feeling - especially when the pundits started talking draw - was that McCain would suffer for that in the longer run.

McCain needed Obama to fuck up and thereby prove their contention he can't hack it. All Obama had to do to come even is stay alive. As it is, he appeared calm, reasoned and reasonable and, as some pundits have noted hit some key phrases over and over again.

McCain seemed to be trying for a "there you go again" moment with his phrase about Obama not understanding. It didn't work. It came off either as arrogant and condescending or just plain wrong.

It couldn't be anything else since McCain made major gaffes: Pakistan is not a failed state.

To draw the parallel at home, McCain, like DW's ABC, could only win in a single scenario. He needed Obama to screw up badly like DW needed to turn over every seat.

All other scenario's were basically an Obama a win or, in ODP's case, a Harper victory. There's still plenty of time for Obama to swing voters. These debates will not work well for the Republicans. Odds are against them in every one, especially in the VP debate. Palin just isn't anywhere close to being up to the job.

She may reinforce the vote among Republican women but she isn't doing anything beyond that but serving a limited, defensive purpose. Moving from that to liability is only a heartbeat away. Which is how close she is to being president which will undoubtedly weigh on people's minds, the worse McCain looks.

Incidentally, go look at his "suspended campaign" newser again and tell me his face looked like that of a spry, energetic man set to do two back-to-back terms.

Didn't think so.

Burr Deming said...

McCain was indeed transparently angry. I think it goes beyond the debate or even the campaign.

John McCain suffered unimaginably in service to the rest of us. When his sacrifices are denigrated or ignored by those who never endured such treatment, his anger is understandable. I believe this instance is more revealing than the debate.

Anonymous said...

Hey if you are taking westjet you can prob catch the debate.. I watched the McCain/Obama Fri nite on a flight

towniebastard said...

Megan, when I started watching I actually thought it might be Palin. Man, Tina Fey does a positively eerie Sarah Palin.

Ed, I've actually been wondering what Williams will do with his ABC if the polls start showing a Conservative majority. Something for a future blog post, I think.

Burr, I do have great sympathy for what McCain went through in Vietnam. From what I've read about it, it certainly would have killed lesser men. However, for decades he's made what he's went through a centrepiece in his political biography. He shouldn't be surprised that if he does that so much that there would be negative consequences.

And Anon, sadly I'm flying Air Canada, so no, I won't be seeing it.