Wednesday, October 15

Johnny McCangry and the Last Debate

On points it was a tie, or at best a small Obama win. Certainly less of a win for him than previous debates.

But that's entirely understandable. Obama let some of McCain's points slide and focused on style and defense.

As usual, Obama won on style. He was cool, calm in control of himself -- everything we've come to expect. He was also boring apart from a small flare in the middle of the debate. But boring is a positive thing at this point: he's well ahead, and his goal is to get people used to him and unafraid.

On that note, he succeeded. Not spectacularly, but safely. No risks. The contrast with McCain's erratic kitchen-sink approach was pretty noticeable. If anyone was still wondering who they'd rather have answering a 3am phone call, this could have decided it.

I imagine that, once again, the polls about who "won" the debate will be more disparate among the public than among pundits. Part of this is that pundits have a financial interest in fomenting the horse-race narative. But they're also more impressed by formalized debate points since it's rude to acknowledge that most of the remaining "undecideds" will choose based on stylistic whims.

So, the style factor is what's going to end up mattering. I don't see many of the few truly undecided voters that are left going towards McCain based on his performance tonight. And that's the key. McCain needed to knock this one out of the park if he was to have any chance. I don't think his spluttering created any waves. In fact, the momentum of the race is almost entirely unaffected -- people are still left disliking McCain's negative attitude:

Since there was no momentum shift, going forward independents are going to keep trickling towards Obama at the same rate. If this keeps up till November, we're in landslide territory. I put Obama's lowball EVs at 320. The chances of a landslide (375+ EVs) stay 50-50.

From now on the McCain campaign will be acting like a cornered animal and is capable of anything.

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