The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

VP Debate review, a couple days late

I think the biggest news on VP debate day, at least pertaining to the race, was the story that the McCain campaign was pulling out of Michigan. That story broke on Thursday morning, hours before Palin and Biden squared off. The McCain campaign seemingly concluded that no matter what positive effect came out of that night's debate, Michigan -- a swing state for the last several election cycles -- was out of reach.

Michigan: epicenter of the "Reagan Democrats".

Michigan: where there was supposed to be a large population of white middle-class suburbanites who weren't warming to Obama that quickly.

Michigan: where Obama was supposed to have a disadvantage because of the controversy during the Democratic primary season when the state's delegates were not initially seated in full.

Michigan: supposedly a test-ground to measure the extent of the so-called "Bradley Effect".

All gone, off McCain's radar. So what does this mean? It means the McCain campaign knows that public opinion has turned irrevocably against Sarah Palin, and even the most capable debate performance possible from her wasn't going to change that.

And it hasn't.

At best, the debate was an absolute wash.

Palin: If there was a list of things she had to do to stay afloat, she did all of those, and came across as not a rambling flub-machine. Unfortunately for her, though, she came off as a robotic slogan-machine, retreating to stale McCain/GOP talking points on every single question, regardless of what questions were being asked. "I'm not going to answer your question, I'm going to talk to the American people." But Sarah, this is a debate, the whole point is to answer the questions you're given. And they weren't exactly curveballs (Gwen Ifill kept her questions very simple and straightforward). She reveals herself (haha) as a decent 2nd-tier McCain surrogate, but did nothing to improve her ticket's chances with undecided voters. Of course, there's always Rich Lowry of National Review, whose take on her performance reeks of KY. Ew. But to quote Homer Simpson, "[She] card read good!"

Biden: All he needed to do was not make any major gaffes, and not say anything that could be misconstrued as bullying or sexist regarding his debate opponent. Check and check. One of the things Biden noticed was that Palin was not departing from her scripted talking points during the debate, so he could go after McCain with relative impunity.

Key moment of the debate: Biden chokes up a bit when talking about his son and the tragedy that hit his family, and Palin doesn't acknowledge this at all.

Impact on polls: Like I said, probably a wash. On to New Hampshire this Tuesday!


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