Friday, September 26, 2008

Is McCain damaged goods?

Todd Beeton:
Are we being too generous to John McCain?
I'm beginning to think so. I went into this debate with a conscious decision to try and NOT see McCain through my partisan eyes. I actually thought he did pretty good. He certainly seemed more on the ball then in almost every appearance I have seen of him since Obama got the nomination. He was tough, but he didn't seem particularly mean to me. He was in command if his stuff and he didn't stumble in his presentation (Obama, love the man, has a rather annoying stutter).

Yet, according to this polled linked by Marc Ambinder, undecideds gave the debate overwhelmingly to Obama.
40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.
I saw several other left bloggers give similar assessments of McCain, saying that at worst it was a draw (which was still good for Obama, because McCain needed a knockout). The TV pundits appeared to have had a similar assessment.

But early polling appears to suggest that Obama really swamped McCain. So the question is, what did these more casual viewers see that I and others did not? Were we, as Todd suggests, being to generous to McCain? Were we trying to be to clever in determining how people would read McCain's demeanor?

Or is it possible that the public in the last couple of weeks has swung so strongly against McCain that they were predisposed to give him a thumbs down to him as long as Obama held his own? Has his brand been so damaged by his poor campaign and his reaction to the finance crisis that no amount of good showing by him could possibly help him?

I'm beginning to wonder.


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