Obama Looked More Presidential

One of the main points I noted both during the debate and shortly thereafter was that Barack Obama looked and sounded like a President while John McCain looked and sounded like a Senator. Apparently the polling indicates that this was exactly the case for others watching the debate (h/t Marc Ambinder):

Obama was seen as more "presidential" by 46% of the debate watchers, compared with 33% for McCain.

The difference is even more pronounced among debate watchers who were not firmly committed to a candidate: 44% said they believed Obama looked more presidential, whereas 16% gave McCain the advantage.

I suspect this is one of the main reasons why the earliest indicators seem to suggest that Obama is getting a bounce out of the first debate and McCain continues to founder in the low- to mid-40s in nationwide support. There might not have been any major body blows landed by either candidate, and perhaps nothing overly memorable occurred during the 90-minute debate, but that doesn't mean that the debate didn't have an impact. Obama needed to come off as looking at least as "presidential" as McCain -- he needed to seem like a palatable and not risky alternative -- and not only was he able to achieve this, he seems to have come off significantly more"presidential" than his more established Republican opponent.

Tags: Debate, White House 2008 (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

And he passed the 'commander-in-chief' test as a consequence, the last hurdle before the final furlong to the finish.  This has been the one narrative holding him back since the beginning of the national contest.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-09-28 04:09PM | 0 recs
What?

The smirking and snarling little old man doesn't look presidential?

by Bush Bites 2008-09-28 05:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

And the polling shows just how out of touch the pundits are.  Immediately after the debate, pundits were gravely talking about how often Obama agreed with McCain, as if Obama had made a fatal error in doing so.  Lots of bloggers were saying that as well.  

Of course, they couldn't carry that meme for very long, as every polling data showed that the American people picked Obama overwhelmingly as the winner.  

Then they started talking about how McCain never looked at Obama and a new meme was born.  

by ProfessorReo 2008-09-28 05:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

That must be why David Broder wrote a column today stating that McCain was "clearly the Alpha Male" in the debate.  For those of you who are not as old as I am, Broder used to be a fair, intelligent and insightful writer.  Now he is just embarrassing himself.  

David, please, please -- retire.

by The Goatherder 2008-09-28 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

Somehow I think Broder wasn't thinking just politics when he wrote that.

by RandyMI 2008-09-28 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

The thing is, while the pundits, and a lot of bloggers on both sides, take a partisan approach, and wanted to see points scored and attacks landed, the folks that really enjoy that stuff are already committed to their candidate.  The key group is the uncommitted, who are by and large moderate and independent.  They like both candidates because they are perceived as less partisan than typical politicians (and thus both candidates continue to score very high approval ratings - high 50s and low 60s).

In this debate, Obama, with his "you're right, John, but ..." points appeared post-partisan and his attacks were more effective since he clearly was willing to give credit where due, while McCain with his "you don't understand" when anyone watching the debate could see that he clearly understands, appeared partisan and petty.  Thus, Obama appealed directly to the moderates and independents who unsurprisingly dramatically preferred his approach.  

That's why the post debate polls showed a large preference for Obama, and that's why he's steadily increasing his lead in the polls.  The folks that will decide this want less partisan bickering in Washington, and Friday night Obama clearly showed that he's the right choice for them.

by LanceS 2008-09-28 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

Have we found any bad news yet?

by RandyMI 2008-09-28 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

Obama looked more presidential when he grew in confidence once it was obvious McCain was too cautious. McCain was almost like Gore in the second debate of 2000, apparently worried about public reaction if he came across as too temperamental or disrespectful. Even when McCain repeatedly said Obama didn't understand, there was no emphasis or altered tone. It was a weak canned line.

Like I posted on debate night, McCain's performance was apropos of a seated debate, not a podium debate. In podium debates it's expected you will turn toward the opponent and engage forcefully. Obama had many stretches of that, particularly in the "war didn't start in 2007" beauty.

McCain played it safe and lost.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-09-28 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Looked More Presidential

Gotta say, I don't see the paralel between McCain's performance and Gore in the second debate.  McCain was downright nasty and extremely aggressive.  His problem wasn't holding back, it was that there was a clear disconnect between his accusations of Obama not "understanding"  and Obama's answers to the questions -- which, whether you agreed with them or not, were obviously cogent.  

by HSTruman 2008-09-28 10:09PM | 0 recs

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