Third Debate Buries McCain

So says Democracy Corps, which focus grouped the debate:

John McCain entered tonight’s debate needing to halt Barack Obama’s momentum and fundamentally change the dynamic of the race.Not only did he fail to achieve this goal, McCain dug himself an even deeper hole.Undecided voters watching the debate felt McCain gave a decidedly un-presidential performance, appearing rude, negative, and easily flustered – a stark contrast to Barack Obama’s cool, commanding presence.Obama was seen as the clear victor in the debate, and a group that was much more disposed to support McCain at the outset instead shifted decisively toward Obama (42 to 20 percent) after viewing the debate.


Democracy Corps conducted dial and focus groups with 50 undecided voters in Denver, CO during and after tonight’s debate.Prior to the debate, these undecided voters had an unmistakable lean toward McCain, giving him strong personal marks (54 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable) while dividing evenly on Obama (42 percent favorable, 42 percent unfavorable). In fact, in the focus groups conducted after the debate, many of these voters explicitly said that they came into the evening wanting to vote for McCain. But the debate changed their outlook significantly. By a 50 to 24 percent margin, these voters said that Obama won the debate. More significantly, the debate moved their vote considerably, with 42 percent supporting Obama and 20 percent supporting McCain. This was the most decisive movement we saw toward Obama in any of the three debates.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

< Describing McCain | McCain's HOLC Moment >
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    The two Joes. (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 06:47:26 AM EST
    This was a debate between Joe Cool and Joe Fool.


    Democracy Corps conducted dial and focus groups with 50 undecided voters in Denver, CO during and after tonight's debate.Prior to the debate, these undecided voters had an* unmistakable lean toward McCain*, giving him strong personal marks (54 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable) while dividing evenly on Obama (42 percent favorable, 42 percent unfavorable). In fact, in the focus groups conducted after the debate, many of these voters explicitly said that they came into the evening wanting to vote for McCain.

    This must be a strange new usage of the word "undecided" with which I was previously unacquainted.

    Love the results of all these focus groups (none / 0) (#3)
    by barryluda on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:11:36 AM EST
    Especially the ones on Fox leaving all of the "fair and balanced" crowed startled that some people see Obama as the winner.

    But I've got to ask (and this is a serious question for BTD or anyone else who really knows the answer)...

    Do focus groups like this really have any credibility?

    It's easy to say, sitting comfortably here at home, but I think many people are like me and, if asked, would say "sure I'm undecided" in order to get in the group.  And then, before the debate, say they're "leaning McCain" if asked, so they could slam McCain the more after the debate.

    OK, maybe I wouldn't do that, but how accurate are they?


    Ha. I found myself (2.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:52:44 AM EST
    saying to this post, "Democracy Corps finds results favorable for the Democrat -- I bet Fox News found results favorable for the Republican!"  It sounds like the skewed focus groups on other networks, per reports after previous debates.   I'll stick with CSpan. :-)

    Well you would be wrong (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:57:56 AM EST
    the Fox focus groups saw it for Obama.

    the polls saw it for Obama.

    Stick to whatever you want but you have become increasingly bitter that Obama is gonna win it seems to me. Weird.


    Yeah, I was very much against Obama (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 08:00:09 AM EST
    in the primaries, but his steady performance since August, Hillary's great arguments, and McCain's sub-incompetent campaigning has really made this an easy choice. I think McCain truly has some maverick elements in his political philosophy, and would have been a tough opponent if he weren't campaigning as W. II.

    Didn't see that reported here (none / 0) (#18)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 08:58:40 AM EST
    so went to see the Fox News site.  Not what it says.

    And you mistake the mood -- I'm already weary about what is ahead with either of these candidates, considering the current state of the country.  If the country is run the way this campaign has been run by both sides, it will be four more years of distractions and deflections and divisiveness.

    I had hoped we were better than that.


    Excuse me (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:10:03 AM EST
    But that is just wrong.

    The Fox news site DOES say Obama won.

    This is what is bothering me about your approach these days, You are not even dealing in facts any more. Weird.


    ya (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by connecticut yankee on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:20:33 AM EST
    Yeah, I watched it live.  Four people in the Fox group switched to Obama and Luntz told Hume, "If that's any indication, it was a very good night for Obama".

    Well (none / 0) (#28)
    by CST on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:26:05 AM EST
    I guess the upside to that is it can't get any worse right?  I mean, we all made it through the last 8 years somehow.  I bet we'll make it through the next four.  And honestly, it's never as bad as the campaign season during the rest of the year.

    I think McCain (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:49:01 AM EST
    basically did what the base had been urging him to do.

    I hope (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by WS on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:56:00 AM EST
    McCain will become a moderate maverick and votes with the Democrats on many issues in the next Senate session.  The right will hate him after he loses and he doesn't owe them a thing.

    I also hope McCain's loss will hurt Palin badly.  Her appeal is really overrated and she's more like a female Bush/Quayle than the woman of the people the deluded conservatives think she is.    

    I hope Palin... (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by barryluda on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 08:17:30 AM EST
    continues to appeal 100% to the most crazy, right-wing, Christian-conservative wing of the Republican party, but -- at the same time-- is hurt so badly with everyone else that she becomes the Republican candidate into the future that wins in primaries but can't win anything else outside of Alaska.

    Sports analogies (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 08:52:08 AM EST
    I hate to use them but this one is very clear.

    In the second half of a football game highly successful and winning coaches adjust to what they saw in the first half.  Look at any coach who has a lifetime winning record and you will find a coach with a rich history of capitalizing on what they saw in the first 30 minutes.

    Parallel this with McCains candidacy and his future as a president.  An argument can be made that McCain has made many adjustments in this campaign, Sarah Palin, terror, energy and negative.  All of which have fallen flat and in every case save terror and fear, McCain has wildly miscalculated what the American people need.

    This debate was the centerpiece of a campaign that did not listen to the voting public.  Despite the medias soft push on his last two debates regarding his anger and message, McCain made no attempt to adjust his message or demeanor to appear more presidential or thoughtful.

    The intimidation approach worked in and starting with McCains acceptance speech this year and up until last night he has stayed with the politics of old, which of course roll right into the more of the same theme.

    People are scared not angry (anger comes later in the stage of grief) and McCain is so out of touch he doesn't even understand the stages of grief.

    I watched briefly MSNBC (vomit fest), CNN (waaay too many talking heads) and FOX (watched the HRC interview she rocked).  None of which derided him regarding his anger. I think they know it is over for him and were giving a pass to a national "hero".  And by the way, an angry hero is still angry and unappealing.  

    Gergen did say it best when he said that the best McCain can do is clean it up and leave with his honor intact.

    McCain did not have control of his emotions or his campaign and it surprises me (although the campaign is still ongoing and the media is showing deference) that story was not discussed in light of his performance last night, hero worship notwithstanding.

    Based on his performance as a candidate, his utter lack of discipline in that regard and his callous regard for the economy and the middle class, John McCain would be a disaster as President of the United States.

    For the good of the country and safety of Barack Obama I would hope McCain would tone down the terrorist rhetoric and would instruct his running mate to do the same.  Shouting "kill him" is dangerous.  To that end McCain spent nearly 3 minutes asking Obama to "repudiate" Lewis and did not make a clear and stern statement to those would shout such an obscene and illegal statement.  It is indicative of McCains unrepentant and repugnant campaign and again a clear demonstration of why he would be a disaster as POTUS.

    John McCain, for the good of your country and to honor your statement about working with both sides of the aisle, temper yourself, your campaign, your running mate and your rally crowds.

    I thought of the Super Bowl analogy (none / 0) (#19)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:01:55 AM EST
    in terms of debate-watching, and I wondered whether the audience is tracked to see if -- as in some Super Bowl games -- many tune in for the first half and miss the second half.  If so, results would be skewed.  It also will be interesting to see the numbers for the audience, i.e., whether interest has remained high amid all the horrific headlines.

    everyone of my employees (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:09:23 AM EST
    turned it off after the first 30 min, funny you would say that.  They are all voting for O but now that you say that I wonder how many people have simply had enough and tuned out.

    And that also supports the studies (none / 0) (#23)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:28:34 AM EST
    that say that debates don't really matter, if they saw the first part but their votes are unchanged.  (And that means your employees are sensible, as debates are staged pseudoevents, and any voter ought to rely on better information sources.)

    i think they mattered in this election (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:32:35 AM EST
    moreso than usual because of the doubts about O's readiness.  Not for the base mind you, but for the indys and "undecideds".  

    I am in Illinois so i don't know how sensible we are.  Just like those in AZ supporting their "guy".


    I thought this was Obama's best debate so far (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by esmense on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:21:28 AM EST
    I was shocked when the CNN commentators, immediately after the debate, said that it was McCain's best performance and that Obama was "flat." (If that's McCain's "best" he has no chance of winning.)

    What debate were they watching? McCain couldn't contain his anger and disdain for his opponent -- it was extremely unattactive. Obama never got riled, answered attacks reasonably, and when talking about his policies spoke directly and powerfully to the audience (something he has been less apt to do in the past). I thought it was his very best debate because he consistently engaged with the people watching and calmly ignored McCain's pettiness.

    It seemed obvious (none / 0) (#26)
    by Chatham on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:54:15 AM EST
    I was thinking the same thing.  My only guess is that some pundits had it in their head that he was going to be doing better, and had the narrative already laid out.  It seemed pretty clear that he was all over the place last night.  That I actually heard some talking heads saying, "I'm sure the Republicans are saying, where was this McCain the last two debates?" seems to show how out of touch (or manipulative, depending on how you see it) they are.

    The conventional wisdom must be pushed (none / 0) (#30)
    by esmense on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:43:46 AM EST
    I think they were expecting and rooting for McCain to "go after" Obama last night (he did say, before the debate, that he would "kick his a**). And, in as much as they could make an argument that McCain attempted "fireworks" they saw it as his "best" debate -- even though those fireworks pretty much fizzled and left him looking bad.

    As is often the case, what the media thinks the candidates should do and what is genuinely effective are usually two different things.


    McCain's statement on the health of the mother (5.00 / 0) (#25)
    by Howard Zinn on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:36:18 AM EST
    during the abortion discussion was especially telling, IMO.  Hopefully this one will stick with voters.  Did you see how disdainful McCain was with the air quotes around "health" of the mother?  I don't always agree with Chris Matthews, but he hit the nail on the head with that one.

    If there were any pro-choice women on the fence, I hope they take note of McCain's disregard for their health.

    So it's only a "women's issue" again? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:32:32 AM EST
    Sad, if true.  I hope it remains a Dem issue.

    did you see the instant favorability polling (none / 0) (#34)
    by Howard Zinn on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 02:44:21 PM EST
    on CNN during the abortion discussion?

    It's a human rights issue that's important to everyone, of course, but it would be hard to argue that it's not a more personal issue to women -- more likely to swing their votes.

    But it's McCain's flippant disregard for women's "health" in that soundbite that's going to be damaging to him , I certainly hope.  It's justified.  Juxtaposing that with the Palin VP selection is just another symptom of McCain's schizophrenic campaign.


    Did you consider writing this, then (none / 0) (#35)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 04:30:25 PM EST
    as your last sentence:  

    If there were any pro-choice people on the fence, I hope they take note of McCain's disregard for women's and families' health.

    If you consider it a human rights argument, then write it that way, right from the start.


    again (none / 0) (#38)
    by Howard Zinn on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 06:05:25 PM EST
    more likely to be a swing issue for women.  and i'm not running for president :-)

    More likely, but we're like the Marines (none / 0) (#42)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:24:00 PM EST
    as all we need is a few good men on our side, so we like to acknowledge their existence -- and their acknowledgment of ours in seeing this as a human rights issue.  

    It's not just words.  It's one of our tests.    


    The Dow lost 700+ points (none / 0) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:10:24 AM EST
    The world is expecting a horrific recession; Mccain's been fork tender for oh, about a month or so; 14 straight posts re:"The debate."

    I know, I know; " go get your own blog."

    I just wish the man can go on to....where-ever, with whatever shred of dignity and honor he can scrape together. I just can't feel any sense of elation at seeing an old, broken, and troubled man ending what could have been a wonderful career in such shambles.

    It could have been a wonderful career (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:23:17 AM EST
    if he didn't have 25 years as a corrupt Senator supporting a corrupt party with the wrong ideas for this country.
    Really, what Republican from this period will have any reputation left in 50 years.

    All true.... (2.00 / 0) (#5)
    by NYShooter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:46:10 AM EST
    and whatever pound of flesh he deserved to have exacted, he gave.
    When there's nothing left....he's still a human.

    Quite a luxury keeping score, eh? Since time began, those that wanted power knew that whipping up hatred for the opponent was the first step to ever greater atrocities....and ultimate victory. Obama certainly knew it vis-a-vis Hillary, and used it to great advantage.....and victory.

    She wasn't the devil incarnate Axlerod spun to his acolytes.....and neither was McCain.


    Funny thing, I don't see hatred (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:47:51 AM EST
    stirred up by the Obama camp against McCain the way it was against Hillary.

    well (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by connecticut yankee on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:50:50 AM EST
    Hillary had a hate industry to tap courtesy of 20 years of right wing shtick.

    As a hillary voter, I was a bit peeved to see the liberals jump on the anti-clinton talking points but I never blamed Obama for it.  It was more of a grass roots thing that showed how easy it for liberals to morph into conservatives.


    It's aimed more at Palin (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:55:22 AM EST
    -- have you seen the "Sarah Is A C**t" t-shirts proudly displayed on some so-called librul blogs?  So-called = gender trumps age as fun to make fun of.

    Yes, true enough. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:57:56 AM EST
    Ive been wondering... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Thanin on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 02:20:53 PM EST
    about this, or more specifically the feminists who use that word with palin.  It seems like a case similar to when minorities use racial slurs against members of their own race, when they feel like the person theyre insulting is going against their own interests, and therefore going against the interests of the group they represent.

    I personally wouldn't use the C word because Im a guy and don't feel I have any right too, but being NA Im quite comfortable calling another NA an apple (as I have done at TL before) or anything else that would hurt an NA acting like a moron (todd palin).  So when woman use that against sarah, I can understand that.


    Your pronouns confuse me (none / 0) (#36)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 04:34:26 PM EST
    If by "that," you mean using the c-word at Palin or anyone, no one of either gender ought to do so, period.  Allow its use at all, and arguments against it are nullified.

    If by "that," you mean the f-word -- Palin is a feminist, by its definition.  There are several forms of feminism; a lot of liberals are aware of only one or a few forms.  

    Btw, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton strenuously fought against abortion.  Food for thought. :-)


    Yeah... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Thanin on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 05:29:01 PM EST
    Id love for a feminist to come on and argue these points, as I know feminists who call palin the C word.  

    One question Id ask would be, wouldnt all the different factions of feminists all agree that the ultimate goal is for equality of women?


    Yes. (none / 0) (#40)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:17:40 PM EST
    That's the basic definition -- although even better is to simply equality for all.  (I.e., not reverse sexism, with gender dominance but by a different gender.)  Palin is for economic equality, political equality, social equality, etc.

    I have heard conservative feminists who could argue Palin's stance on reproductive rights; I can't -- as I have difficulty dealing with it as feminism myself, and I don't spend a lot of time on McCain or Palin, because I'm not voting for them.

    But I can't deny that she meets the definition in general and demonstrates a form of feminism.  Just not mine.  

    As for feminists who use the c-word, they well may be feminists, too -- but apparently lack the ability to extrapolate that such actions have consequences.  So there are stupid feminists, too; we're equal opportunity all the way. :-)  

    After all, we've also certainly seen smart sexists and misogynists, so they allow just anybody in, too.


    Nice... (none / 0) (#43)
    by Thanin on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 07:26:25 AM EST
    I suppose the only counter I could offer would be an all-or-nothing argument, meaning youre either for all angles of female equality or youre not.  And while you say there are those that can argue an anti choice position is feminists, I really cant even fathom that, so this is where I say she fails on feminism.

    As far as past feminists being anti choice, the only thing I could say to that would be they were as reasonably feminist on issues as the social climate they grew up in would allow.  Of course I say that not knowing Susan B. Anthonys and Elizabeth Cady Stantons arguments were.


    Sorry, but something (none / 0) (#39)
    by jondee on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 06:14:36 PM EST
    smells like unsubstantiated McPuma rumour.

    Gotta a link for any of these so-called librul sites?


    See this link (none / 0) (#41)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:20:40 PM EST
    here -- and if and when I see one of those with the t-shirts again, this comment will be a placeholder to find you again with another link.  

    Only the dark prayers of Charlie Black (none / 0) (#6)
    by cannondaddy on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 07:46:47 AM EST
    could change this now.

    How is he going to govern? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Yotin on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:52:41 AM EST
    When I watched the debate last night, I was looking for clues on how they're going to govern. There was one clue I didn't even have to look for. McCain gave it to me. Obama is going to be a slick one. He can make you hear what you want to hear when he actually said almost the opposite. On Obama's energy plan, McCain caught him on his careful choice of words. I heard Obama said he'll drill offshore. However, as McCain pointed out, Obama actually said, we should look into offshore drilling. Wow! I almost got taken. Thanks McCain. What this means is when he gets to be Pres., he can always take that back since he never promised it.

    Nevertheless, it really doesn't matter whether Obama promised it or not. Remember, when he promised to take public financing for his campaign if McCain did the same? Or remember, in the primary when he's trying to corner the left wing and activists of the party, he said he'll filibuster the FISA bill. When it came time to vote and the primary almost over, he voted for it.

    The point is, can we trust this man to deliver on his promises when his records show he failed, particularly on the important ones? Is he a creature of political expediency?

    In one of his unguarded moments, he slipped and revealed his core belief: redistribute wealth. America is the land of opportunity. But you have to, with patience, earn and work hard to get it. America rewards the brave and hard worker. I, too, believe, in helping the less fortunate. And that's where charity comes in. Americans are some of the most generous people on earth.

    I have earned everything I've got and it took me a lifetime to get there. Like you, I want my hard work rewarded and not taken away. Let me decide who and what good causes I want to help.

    I picked up a second clue on how Obama is going to govern. His principles are on shaky ground. He'll rationalize to operate outside his principles when it's convenient to his personal career. When Obama was questioned about his earmarks of $1B, he dismissed it as less than 1% of the budget. Yes, last year's earmark was only $8B. Was it the amount or the principle? If the project is a worthy one, why not let it go through the budget process with transparency and not slipped it in deceitfully? Big rackets start from small one as he finds what one can get away with.

    Didn't Obama say, he was going to do away with pork barrel? The slick one, he just didn't tell at what % of the budget.

    In his same dismissive way, he failed to come clean and be opened about his past associations with Ayers, ACORNS, Rezko, Wright, etc. This means that when he governs, he'll be dismissive of what Americans want to know if its something he wants to hide.

    Yes, we can forget about any insuanations of his being a muslim (altho I see nothing wrong with being a muslim), a terrorists sympathizer, etc. What we have to look into are patterns of using association with dubious characters to advance his political ambition against the interest of the community, his lack of firm principles, his dismissiveness and slickness to be fortright with the truth, his use of racism and people's miseries to advance his career, and in the few times he slipped, who he may truly be in his core belief.

    Candidates for the presidency are not given the benefit of a doubt. If they don't clear their names and be forthright, they're guilty as hell. It's too risky to give the most powerful position in the world to someone unproven. Like to the each of us, even they have to earn it. Obama for one is young, he can go back to the Senate, do hard work, self-negate his personal ambition for the greater good, and earn our trust that next time, it's not like we're taking chances with him.


    This doesn't bother anybody (none / 0) (#33)
    by lentinel on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 02:26:02 PM EST
    It doesn't seem to bother anybody that when McCain asked Obama to name a single time he went against the leadership of the Democratic party, he couldn't do it.

    As an answer, he mentioned his support for "clean coal technology" which puts him on the wrong side of environmental issues. The Sierra Club has condemned it. McCain, of course, is for it - as is Obama.

    No one on this side of the issue - people who care about releasing pollutants into the environment - seem to care.
    Obama did great in the debate. He looked presidential. He kept calm. Great.

    Obama also mentioned his support for "tort reform" - which makes it harder to people who have been injured to sue the corporations that injured them.

    No one on this side, presumably on the side of the people who are hurting, seems to care.

    People are programmed to want Obama because they want Obama.