Fun Story from a Young Organizer at the Final Debate - With Video!

I am posting this on behalf of Progressive Future's Media Associate, Sarah Payne.

Things got a little touchy at the Hofstra debate.

McCain jabs right, Obama parries left - it's wasn't quite a rumble but sparring we definitely saw, and talk of campaign negativity took up a valuable chunk of air time.

And, truth be told, we saw some of that outside the debate, too.

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The Morning After... and it doesn't look good for McCain.

So we had a night of "Joe The Plumber," challenges on who was friends with who, and an avoidance of issues by McCain every time Obama tried to cover them.

Browsing the web for results this morning, while listening to "Morning Joe" on MSNBC (where Mika and Joe are almost at each other's throats), I'm seeing a lot of the things I put in my own notes last night come up again.

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A Stoner Debating An Alcoholic

At times, this felt like a debate between a stoner and an alcoholic.  Like in the first debate, it was frustrating to see Obama let McCain largely drive the debate and keep Obama on the defensive.  But more so than in the first debate, I think if Obama seemed somewhat too subdued or even sedate, McCain came off as cranky, irritable, and nasty to the point of seeming unpresidential.  McCain did himself no favors by cutting Obama off to bring up Bill Ayers an extra time, or with the endless sarcastic asides.  And I think you look small when you whine on and on about how a civil rights hero was too mean in criticizing the nastiness of your campaign.

As a super-decided voter, it was aggravating to see McCain attack on the first Gulf War without Obama firing back about the current one, and more so to see Obama sounding defensive, reassuring tones about his tax plan without hammering McCain on why now of all times he would want to outdo George Bush in sending more money to the richest among us.  That said, it's not that Barack Obama doesn't know how to go on the attack.  It's just that he's winning, and his strategy in this debate - like the prior two but even more so - was to show himself a steady hand steering the ship of state.  It's hard to find someone not currently receiving checks from the McCain campaign to argue the Obama strategy isn't working.

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What happened to Bill Bennett?

A weird thing on CNN's post debate coverage. The first comments after Blitzer and Cooper delivered their summary came from Bill Bennett. He reminded us that he had been unhappy with McCain's previous performances, but exuberantly proclaimed McCain the winner of this debate. They went to Paul Begala who gave a less enthusiastic nod to Obama, pointing out that McCain again came across as angry. Then they went to David Gergen who argued for reasons I don't remember that Obama won. The reason I don't remember is that I was distracted by Bennet's rather pronounced head shaking and sarcastic grimacing.

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Post-Debate Polls and Focus Groups

CNN focus group of undecided voters did not like the Ayers attack. The "Joe the plumber" story also tanked, according to the focus group. On who won the debate:

John McCain: 10 voters
Barack Obama: 15 voters

Update [2008-10-15 22:53:19 by Todd Beeton]:No numbers yet but from the MSNBC focus group, the way McCain talked about Ayers "backfired" among independents and Republicans.

Also, Democrats and Independents really liked Obama's line that "I can stand 3 weeks of attacks but the American people can not stand 4 more years of George W. Bush economic policies."

Update [2008-10-15 22:57:46 by Jonathan Singer]: Obama won the Fox News -- Fox News -- focus group of undecided voters. Said Frank Luntz: "None had made a decision to support Sen. Obama before the debate, but more than half supported after the debate. It was a good night for Barack Obama."Marc Ambinder writes that the CBS live focus group "seems to think McCain did well", however.

Update [2008-10-15 23:0:29 by Jonathan Singer]: The overall numbers from CBS News look great for Obama. Here is their survey of uncommitted supporters as to who won the debate:

McCain: 22 percent
Obama: 53 percent

Don't listen to the pundits -- it's the people who matter. And so far, they think Obama swept the debates.

Update [2008-10-15 23:6:39 by Jonathan Singer]: CNN's numbers among those viewing the debate were even rougher for McCain, whose favorable rating actually went down while his unfavorable rating went up:

Best Job in Debate

McCain: 31 percent
Obama: 58 percent

Obama Favorables

Favorable: 63 percent before debate --> 66 percent after debate
Unfavorable: 35 percent before debate --> 33 percent after debate

McCain Favorables

Favorable: 51 percent before debate --> 49 percent after debate
Unfavorable: 45 percent before debate --> 49 percent after debate


Update [2008-10-15 23:34:37 by Todd Beeton]:And check out these numbers from CNN:

Who would better handle the economy?

McCain: 35 percent
Obama: 59 percent

Who would better handle the financial crisis?

McCain: 35 percent
Obama: 56 percent

Who would better handle health care?

McCain: 31 percent
Obama: 62 percent

Who would better handle taxes?

McCain: 41 percent
Obama: 56 percent

Anderson Cooper: "David Gergen, if you're John McCain, what's the does the race change now for John McCain?"

David Gergen: "Beats the hell out of me."

Pretty much sums it up.

Update [2008-10-15 23:53:53 by Todd Beeton]:Check out these ridiculous favorability numbers from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner during a focus group that began tilted toward John McCain but didn't end up that way:

McCain Favorables

Favorable: 54 percent before debate --> 50 percent after debate
Unfavorable: 34 percent before debate --> 48 percent after debate

Obama Favorables

Favorable: 42 percent before debate --> 72 percent after debate
Unfavorable: 42 percent before debate --> 22 percent after debate

The focus group was "decisive" for Obama.

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