John McCain won last night’s debate. He was aggressive and made the points that his supporters wanted to hear. He threw everything at Obama that he could – Ayers, Acorn, raising taxes, big government, not traveling to Mexico or South America, free trade and Joe the Plumber. McCain also took advantage of every rebuttal moment to restate Obama’s replies in an unfavorable light. The best line from him was “I am not George Bush.”
However, McCain lost ground as the debate went on. It was like watching an Ole Miss football…great first quarter and then everything starts to unravel.
McCain claimed outrage over negative campaigning, but then brings up Ayers. He calls Obama’s ads negative, yet they are issue ads – health care, economy, jobs, while McCain’s ads are seen as entirely negative focusing on Obama’s character. This was where Obama took back the debate.
Obama didn’t back down. He gave credible explanations. McCain tried to recover, but I think the American voters saw through his attempt to take attention away from himself and accuse his opponent of doing what his running mate and supporters have been doing. It created the lamest moment of the night when McCain tried to accuse Obama – for calling out Sarah Palin and some of the more radical McCain supporters that they called Obama a terrorist and yelled “Kill him” at GOP rallies – of defaming all the mothers of Iraqi War veterans and the Veterans for McCain who attend the McCain rallies. It was very lame, hollow and weak.
Obama did finish strong with health care and education, and this may be why the CBS News poll (here ) showed uncommitted voters naming Barack Obama as the winner of the third and final presidential debate by a large margin (55-22, with 25 declaring it a tie).
In the end, it is the uncommitted voters who are important. McCain shored up his GOP supporters. Obama did the same without making any big mistakes.