Tracking Poll Update: The Baseline for Debate 3

Here are today's numbers:

ObamaMcCain
Diageo/Hotline4941
Gallup (Trad)4947
Gallup (Exp)5145
Rasmussen Reports5046
Research 2000/dKos5241
Average:50.2543.50

Today's numbers reflect the state of the race heading into last night's debate, with all or virtually all interviews occurring before the candidates took the stage. As such, they give us a good baseline from which to gauge movement out of the final meeting between Barack Obama and John McCain (and, indeed, likely the last time the two talk before one concedes to the other -- hopefully -- on election night).

In today's other polling, the Battleground tracker (.pdf) shows Obama leading 50 percent to 44 percent. Overall, it looks like Obama's numbers are more or less holding firm at 50 percent while McCain -- and this was expected -- has inched up a tad from the low-40s to the low-to-mid-40s. This isn't a bad place for the race to be, but it only underscores the need to get involved.

Don't Get Cocky. Hit the Pavement.

Barack Obama was right on the money this morning at a New York City fundraiser:

At a breakfast fundraiser this morning, Obama used the example of the New Hampshire primary, when he lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton after a huge win in Iowa, to warn his supporters against overconfidence, Carrie Budoff Brown reports.

Otherwise, they may get "spanked," he said.

"For those of you who are feeling giddy or cocky or think this is all set, I just have two words for you: New Hampshire," Mr. Obama told top contributors at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan. "I've been in these positions before when we were favored and the press starts getting carried away and we end up getting spanked."

He added, "That's another good lesson that Hillary Clinton taught me, so we want to make sure that we are closing strong, running through the tape."

This is exactly right. The map looks good right now, as does the national polling, and that can lead some into a false sense of security. But we cannot and must not take anything for granted.

So I put the question to you: What will you be doing in the next two and a half weeks to elect Barack Obama president? How many doors will you knock on? How many hours will you put in the phone bank? Will you be traveling to another state, or to another portion of your state, to help with voter contact and the GOTV effort?

What will you do between now and election day to help elect and even more progressive Democratic Congress to work with an Obama administration? Contributing to candidates on MyDD's Road to 60 Act Blue page is a good start. But what else will you do? What will you do to also help gubernatorial candidates, in the few states that have governor elections, or for state legislative candidates, or county commission candidates?

I'm working on finalizing details for a trip to Nevada for the final week or so of the election to help out in whatever way I can. Please let us know what you'll be doing.

There's more...

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

Ouch.

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 message...how 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.

There's more...

Post-Debate Thread

Tonight was John McCain's last best opportunity to change the direction of the race, and as was the case with the previous three debates -- the two featuring McCain and Barack Obama, as well as the Vice Presidential debate -- the Republican just plum came up short.

As I said during the debate, McCain's mudslinging during the campaign was not an effort to raise the profile of his attacks -- whether on Ayers or ACORN or taxes or Joe the plumber -- it was an effort to get Obama on his heels. McCain needed Obama to have a Michael Dukakis/Bernard Shaw/death penalty-like or Gerald Ford/Poland-like moment -- the type of gaffe that sits with the American people through election day, the type of gaffe that raises serious questions about Obama's ability to be President. That didn't happen. Obama remained cool and, perhaps more importantly, didn't lash back at McCain. These might not have been the most comfortable exchanges for Obama, but he won them because he defended himself deftly and refrained from joining McCain in the gutter.

But if there is a historical precedent for tonight's debate, it was the debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush when, at least according to the post-debate meme embraced by the establishment media, Gore sighed and was generally disrespectful of Bush in the background while the Republican was speaking. McCain seemed plain mean. He was huffing and puffing in the background like he was James Gandolfini in the final season of "The Sopranos." He looked angry and disdainful while Obama was speaking. He even rolled his eyes at the recitation of the situation in Colombia, where labor leaders are assassinated. As Paul Begala put it on CNN, "The reaction shots just killed John McCain." Americans might elect a happy warrior... but a an angry one, the thrust of whose campaign appears to echo Jon Lovitz as Dukakis ("I can't believe I'm losing to this guy"). I'm not sure I buy it, and I'm certainly not convinced that the American people will on November 4.

Those are my thoughts... What did you think?

Update [2008-10-15 22:41:17 by Todd Beeton]:Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews agree: McCain's moment where he appeared to belittle the concept of the health of the mother is "going to kill him." Can't wait til we get that video. I began thinking McCain was winning but in the end Barack has another win. 3 for 3 baby.

Update [2008-10-15 22:45:15 by Todd Beeton]:Uh-oh. McCain's in for a rough night. Just heard Luntz on FoxNews say "this was a good night for Barack Obama" with his focus group behind him but I didn't catch any specifics. More as we get the results.

Update [2008-10-15 23:0:54 by Todd Beeton]:Hillary is on CNN just ripping on McCain for voting 90% of the time with George W. Bush and ripping on Republican policies. "It's going to take a Democratic president" to fix these problems. Again, I love the partisan differentiation that is typical of the Democratic rhetoric. Barack originally wanted a campaign that blurred the parties, hence letting Republicans off the hook for their devastating policies. But he's not getting it.

There's more...

Jonathan's Debate Thread

Here we go...

  • McCain: It's "extreme" to include in statutes regulating abortion exceptions for the health of mothers. Who's the extreme one?
  • Again, McCain huffing and puffing in the background. Is it just me, or does he sound a little like James Gandolfini in the final season of "The Sopranos"?
  • Obama voted against Breyer? Um, I don't think he was in the Senate in 1994...
  • More from Ambinder (sorry to steal, Marc): "A Democrat familiar with the party's internal dials: when McCain brought up Ayers, 'the dials sank lower than any answer that we’ve seen in any of the now 4 debates.'" More: "Democrats pushing the theme of McCain's anger as being the lingering impression of this debate so far: One Dem: ' McCain facial's expressions tonight may rival Gore sighing.....'"

Previous updates below the fold...

There's more...

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