Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

My Quick Take on the Debate

All in all a decent night and I agree with most pundits that there were no game-changing moments. I also agree that in general style and the ability to speak articulately on the issues helped Obama. I really believe even more so than most pundits realize, there are a vast number of people tuning into the campaign who assumed Obama was a neophyte and couldn’t hold his own on foreign policy. I think the net effect of the night was to chip away at perceptions that McCain has a dominant advantage on foreign policy and that Obama can’t be Commander-in-Chief, so ultimately that’s a good thing.

By the way, I’d add that I think the divide between pundits and viewers was pretty vast: the pundits all lauded McCain’s personal anecdotes, which he can be good at, but really – does bringing up Reagan, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger as heavily as he did resonate with many people today? My guess is no.

Weakest part for Obama by far was the beginning, which was weak for both men I think (although certainly did nothing to help McCain’s standing on the economy either). But when McCain was asked about how to help improve the economy, his answer was cut spending, which is a patently ridiculous answer. And that frame trapped Obama, and he shouldn’t have been sucked into it. The question was “How would you help the economy,” and Obama responded to McCain’s answer instead of giving his own. His answer should have been to ignore McCain’s framing and reply, “Jobs.” Jobs was the biggest missing component from the night, and Obama should have known better.

The good news: the next debates will be watched heavily and I think Obama will do well in them (although the town-hall format is supposedly McCain’s strong suit). I also think he seemed prepared and he delivered must crisper answers than he did in the primary debates. I feel comfortable knowing he’ll examine his performance and see where he has to strengthen for next time. McCain was clearly told not to be as angry as he comes off sometimes, but couldn’t contain it entirely.

All in all, no game-changers. Still – I do think the stylistic points are important and there is a chance that “McCain didn’t look Obama in the eye” becomes 2008’s “Al Gore’s sigh.” The McCain campaign knows it and is worried about it.

Amazingly, a great deal of how much that perception hardens depends on…SNL tonight.


September 27, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Yeah I was a little disappointed that McCain could control the debate on the economy in the first half, but it wasn’t a complete disaster. The foreign policy portion really kicked McCain’s ass, though, especially that soundbite of Obama saying McCain was wrong. That was a good one 😀

    Comment by dragonmage06 | September 28, 2008 | Reply

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