Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Debate

Hi Everyone,

I got to watch the first debate on a taped rebroadcast today.  My overall impression is that this was a ho-hum kind of debate but if there are things to be read in the tea leaves they are not good for McCain.  

I was watching on CNN which had their focus groups with their approval tracking lines along the bottom.  Most of the time Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all pretty flat at neutral.  Predictably, Republicans liked most of what McCain said and disliked most of what Obama said.  Democrats has the opposite opinion.  That's the ho-hum stuff.  The independents however varied a little and that's where it gets interesting.  

When McCain hit on his main talking points, the independents were turned off.  In particular, the independents did not like it when McCain attacked Obama's experience.  They were also unimpressed with McCain's references to being a POW or his own experience.  And they were fairly bored with the earmark talk.  However, when Obama hit on his main points, the independents lined up with the Democrats more often than with Republicans.  In particular, the independents seemed to like Obama's stance on the war in Iraq (they were unhappy with McCain's repeated attempts to keep the conversation stuck on Iraq however).  

I would say that this debate was, overall, a snoozer.  But given that foreign policy was supposed to be McCain's strong issue and he didn't firmly establish himself as superior on this issue, the advantage goes to Obama.  McCain should also be worried that his own campaign's primary talking points were falling flat.  

My own impression is that McCain appeared uncomfortable and a little cranky.  Obama came off calm and in control.  Indeed, there were several points where it was clear that Obama was the dominant personality in the conversation was capable of dictating the pace of the debate.  


Dr. Strangelove said...

It was more-or-less a tie, which is all Obama really needed. It was not as bad as I had feared it would be. Unlike the 2004 debates, I was able to watch almost all of it--and without cursing.

I thought Obama's rejoinder to the "bracelet" story was good, and he defended himself well when it came to the idea of talking face-to-face with Ahmadinejad. McCain showed himself to be more conversant with foreign affairs, but kind of stuck in the past.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I think maybe this debate simply did for Obama exactly what LTG said the first debate between just Obama and Clinton (in Los Angeles just before Super Tuesday) also did for Obama. By putting Obama on equal footing with a more experienced rival, it made Obama look more Presidential, allaying concerns of inexperience. Apparently, in the polls I have read, Independent voters gave Obama the win.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think that the event was more or less a tie, which is in Obama's favor. What Obama needed was to avoid a game-changer. There was none. I disagree with Dr.S.'s analysis. Obama didn't need a venue to be seen as McCain's equal, because he had gained much stature during the campaign. At the LA debate between Clinton and Obama, Obama scored a "win" by just being there, and it helped him rise in polls. What he needed was different - to avoid losing a lead in the polls.

USwest said...

It was a tie. But I think McCain came close to loosing his temper a couple of times. It would have been fun to see him loose it.

I think Obama showed himself to be focused, respectful, and solid. He didn't need gimmicks. McCain's tactic was evident.

Pombat said...

Good to hear. The only news report I'd heard on it down here (granted, I haven't been seeking any out) seemed to think that Obama lost, by not seeming in control / focused. They had a clip of McCain talking over Obama, with Obama repeating the start of his sentence several times to try and get his point across (but staying calm) as their evidence. So, good to hear here that Obama actually did well.

USWest said...

Obama was almost cautious. He picked which arguments he was going to pursue and deferred to the moderator at other times. Obama, I think, let people see an aggressive, uncontrolled, and nearly hostile at times, McCain.

Obama strikes me as a very even keel personality. He does NOT like drama. That has been repeated time and again about him. And this can be very frustrating for a guy looking for an argument. It just makes the aggressor angrier and angrier. That pretty much explains McCain's problem with Obama.

If you want to disagree with Obama, that's fine, but do so respectfully and reasonably. When I am in France, I so enjoy the discussions that I have on issues. The French know how to disagree without being personal about it. They like the intellectual play that disagreement can bring and they know when to stop and become light about it. We in this country do not know how to do it. And so we avoid getting into situations where we will disagree. So we avoid listening to our opponents. It's all shock jock crap. And it hurts us. If we can't have those types of reasonable discussions at home, how do we expect are leaders to do it in Congress?