by Jonathan Singer, Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 04:07:01 AM EDT
Having slept on it, I still think that although Sarah Palin didn't fall flat on her face, as some on the right had worried she would, her performance did little to nothing to move the ball forward for John McCain. But more or less, Vice Presidential debates don't matter for the electoral outcome, barring some unforgettable and unforgivable gaffe. Lloyd Bentsen's clear victory over Dan Quayle in the 1988 veep debate, for instance, didn't do much to help push Michael Dukakis across the finish line.
But there was a major political development yesterday that will have a significant impact on the ultimate outcome of the presidential election: The McCain campaign pulling out of Michigan. The Politico's Jonathan Martin had the scoop, and here's The New York Times on the story:
Senator John McCain is giving up on his efforts to win the state of Michigan, his campaign said Thursday, in the latest sign that the faltering economy has reshaped the presidential race and cost Mr. McCain support in crucial states.
Ceding Michigan is a major blow to the McCain campaign, which had spent heavily on television commercials there and where Mr. McCain had campaigned repeatedly in the hopes that he could appeal to enough blue-collar voters, so-called Reagan Democrats and independent voters, to bring the state back into the Republican column in November.
The McCain campaign has spent nearly $8 million on ads in Michigan, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that monitors political advertising, and now it has no more plans to advertise there, campaign officials said. And Mr. McCain canceled a visit he had planned to make to Michigan next week.
Mr. McCain had long made it clear that the state was central to his presidential hopes, returning there to campaign again and again and bluntly telling a crowd at a factory in Belleville this July that "the state of Michigan, as it has in many elections in the past, will determine who the next president of the United States is." His campaign announced its retreat on a day that the news of his ceding the state was almost sure to be drowned out by the buzz created by the much-anticipated vice-presidential debate.
A Dukakis Barack Obama is not, apparently, as the 1988 Democratic nominee lost the state of Michigan by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. In fact, if this news has any historical resonance, it would be the similarity between McCain's "major retreat," as the Associated Press put it, and John Kerry's decision to pull out of Missouri in mid- to late-September 2004 -- which also indicated his dwindling shot at 270 electoral votes.
Make no mistake, this is a terrible development for the McCain campaign, one that overshadows whatever happened last night (and not much did). The turf upon which the 2008 campaign is being waged was fairly solidly Republican in years past, with McCain increasingly playing defense and hoping for -- as Mark Warner might have put it -- the "triple bank shot" of holding every one of the increasingly endangered red states, from Indiana to North Carolina to Virginia to Florida to Colorado.