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Who Won the Presidential Debate?

Original post made by Who Won?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2008

Obama clearly won, as was indicated by the CNN post-debate poll. McCain was stiff and uncomfortable and kept repeating lines like "Miss Congeniality" (was that a reference to his Veep pick, beauty queen Palin?), "you don't understand." Obama was in control and didn't give ground. Obama was also gracious in saying when McCain was right, although I think he should have said he agreed with McCain, rather than McCain was right.

McCain needed to show that Obama was inexperienced. McCain clearly did not do that. The idea of cancelling the debate by grandstanding on the Wall Street bailout shows that McCain's campaign strategy is "Hail Mary" passes impulsively made. The Palin choice is consistent with that assessment.

Comments (20)

Posted by A Liar Never Looks You In The Eye
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2008 at 7:59 am

It was strange that McCain never looked at Obama. Even when during the handshake, he looked away. Very creepy.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 27, 2008 at 8:46 am

The one explanation I saw that made sense was that, after all he's gone through (POW, long Senate career, the horrendous Bush smear in 2000, then having to kiss up to Bush and support Iraq, finally having Palin forced down his throat to satisfy the religious nuts), he feels he's entitled to become President and can't believe that he has to debate (and beat) a snot-nosed kid in Obama to get it. In short - open contempt.

In that general regard, I'd say he feels a lot like Hillary did/does.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2008 at 9:11 am

1) On a 5 point scale, on the economy Obama won 4 to 3, where McCain seemed a little vague and scattered

2) On foreign policy, McCain won 4 to 2, where he seemed in total control of the facts and their implications.
McCain was comfortable, Obama was not.

There are two wild cards.

1) Style and stage presence (Obama was smooth and comfortable throughout, McCain was chisel sharp and wonkish with the foreign policy stuff if not the economic questions).
Which do you prefer? Comfort politics, or the old can-do, have-done curmudgeon?

2) The economics questions preceded the foreign policy questions, so the debate ended with McCain in his comfort zone, showing his strength.
I think undecided voters will remember that more than they will his scattered thoughts on economics.
I think this is big for McCain, and he’s lucky things fell this way.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2008 at 11:14 am

The polls collected yesterday and released today show that Obama;s lead's opened up a five-point lead. Then the debate polls and focus groups of undecided voters gave the win to Obama.

McCain has hurt himself badly with the debate-or-not-to-debate shenanigans. He didn't do anything last night that really countered the impression he'd made.

The repeated "you don't understand" was a mistake--Obama just didn't blunder. He was calm and reassuring and, yes, people want that in a crisis period.

Posted by tj
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2008 at 11:28 am

Shame that Obama could not remember the name of soldier on his bracelet, this made him come across as fake patriotic, will not effect the vote here, but in flyover land it will be huge.

If al-Qaeda and militant Islamism did not exist, I would be much more comfortable with Barack Obama.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2008 at 11:37 am


You're scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one.

Obama's said he wants to focus on Afghanistan to remove Al Qaeda. Not sure why that would be counter to your concerns.

Interesting, too. Obama's also spent time in Pakistan, but he didn't feel like he had to bring it up over and over.

I think Obama's background actually gives him a tremendous advantage overseas. Some of the stuff Jane rants about--living overseas as a kid, immigrant father, anthropology student mother--give him a natural advantage--a kind of credibility.

I just hope that things aren't so screwed up that Obama won't be able to operate.

Posted by Time's Ratings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2008 at 11:48 am

Time Magazine grades McCain B-, Obama B+.

Web Link

Posted by Kissinger's Speech
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2008 at 11:50 am

On Sept 16th at George Washington University Kissinger called for high-level talks with Iran without conditions.

Web Link

Posted by Heraclitus
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2008 at 12:09 pm

"If al-Qaeda and militant Islamism did not exist, I would be much more comfortable with Barack Obama."

On the contrary, that's exactly why I'll vote for him, and the debate was extremely helpful to me in seeing the differences between these two men. McCain has a lot of swagger and he relies on it, but he is not always in command of the facts; Obama is cool, knowledgeable, strong, and in command. My gut check: swagger is only useful sometimes. We need someone who can both swagger and reach into the diplomat's bag for other tools.

We've had eight years of thoughtless, unproductive swagger, and I think McCain was mistaken to let that side of his personality come through so strongly. Ah, well, character is fate, as Carl Rove said.

Neither Obama nor McCain did very well in the debate. McCain came off as supercilious (though clearly a brighter bulb than Bush) and as confused about the economy. Obama let McCain define his position at a number of points, and he missed great opportunities to draw distinctions between himself and McCain.

Posted by Correction On Time's Ratings
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm

You got the ratings from Time mag wrong there (it was posted on the other debate thread correctly):
Obama: A- overall
McCain: B- overall

And if you add up the individual ratings, you'll see that McCain really shoudl have gotten a C+ overall, but the reviewer bumped him up one notch - perhaps to make it seem like he wasn't coming down so hard on the guy. But Obama was a full-cut about McCain.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Obama is using Stalinist tactics to silence political critism in Missouri

"Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment."Web Link

Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Totally off topic Sharon. And Blunt may be trying to stir things up to divert attention from his corruption and general unpopularity. Check him out. Ask him about those emails.

Posted by tj
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm

One of the interesting statements by McCain was that he has hunted down corrupt politicians and money men and put them in Federal Prison as Felons.
Obama looked very uncomfortable at that moment.

Today we may begin to find out why.

Possible change of heart
Rezko talked with prosecutors, may aid probe, sources say

Rezko was a political supporter of Obama going back to when he was running for state Senate. Obama's ties to Rezko have become a political albatross for the presidential nominee, who has been forced to defend the convicted felon's fundraising activities for him and revelations Obama bought his South Side mansion on the same day in 2005 that Rezko purchased a vacant lot next door.

Officials for Obama's campaign have said prosecutors during Rezko's trial never made any suggestions that Obama was involved in anything improper.

Still, Republican presidential nominee John McCain has highlighted the ties between Obama and Rezko in a national television commercial.

This may be why Obama was sweating yesterday and McCain was steely eyed

from tomorrows chicago tribune

Web Link

Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2008 at 4:47 pm

No, tj, just another show of desperation from the old man, who sees his last chance slipping away. The grim numbers taken BEFORE the debate last night show Obama with a 5-6% lead - based on last night's performance, it should be around 10% now:

The latest daily tracking polls all show Sen. Barack Obama moving into a clear lead over Sen. John McCain over the course of the last week.

Diageo/Hotline: Obama 48%, McCain 43%
Gallup: Obama 49%, McCain 44%
Rasmussen: Obama 50%, McCain 44%
Research 2000: Obama 49%, McCain 43%

These trackers do not include the impact of last night's presidential debate but will serve as a useful baseline.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2008 at 5:02 pm

From what I have heard, those who like McCain felt he won and those who like Obama think he won. The real question is whether either of the candidates were able to win over the undecided from their performance or even more so whether either of them were able to influence those from the other camp.

Posted by pam
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 27, 2008 at 6:54 pm

it's all academic until november...once people realize that obama, of all people, might be their president, and the gop attack machine cranks into gear, especially in the last two weeks, it's over...hype and msm shills (look at the 'gambling' hit piece in this sunday's shill nyt....for obama has been driving the polls...wonder what rezko will cough up

Posted by pam
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 27, 2008 at 8:58 pm

what i find interesting about most of the msm is that most of them said mccain didn't mention 'main street' or the middle class. i just caught the debate on youtube, and mcain literally brought up main street and the middle class in his first answer...boy, what a sad lot the media is...

Posted by Observer
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 27, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Here's your answer:
2 quick polls give Obama edge in debate
Web Link

Fifty-one percent said Obama, the Democrat, did a better job in Friday night's faceoff while 38 percent preferred the Republican McCain, according to a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey of adults.

In a CBS News poll of people not committed to a candidate, 39 percent said Obama won the debate, 24 percent said McCain and 37 percent called it a tie. Twice as many said Obama understands their needs than said so about McCain.

Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 28, 2008 at 12:12 am

"Undecided voters"

- I always wonder who those folks are. I don't think I've ever known one, though I do believe they exist. Anyone reading this who really hasn't decided?

I've always figured that people who are undecided about a presidential election are just uninformed. I don't mean that they lack intelligence, but perhaps lack interest in the race. Up until the last minute, I might be undecided about something like City Council because even if I have a favorite or least favorite candidate, I have to dig into the information a bit more to form an opinion. But with a presidential election, do you know people who are familiar with all of the positions and experiences of the candidates and still can't decide?

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2008 at 1:23 am

Wow, the anti-Obama contingent's sounding worried tonight. Kids, McSame has already tried a couple of hail-Mary passes and they're not working. He also tried a nice fat series of lies--that didn't work either.

To a lot of people, McCain came off as petty and angry. He was unable to look at Obama. I've since read part of a Washington Post article that says Obama cornered McCain during the bailout discussion and kept asking him to choose between either Bush's plan or that of the rebelling conservative Republicans.

Instead of staying to settle things, McCain left in a huff.

In other words, Obama outmaneuvered McCain on his bail-out gambit.

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