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.
And the problem for Republicans? They are so upset that character attacks are not trumping issues, they are beside themselves.
They just don't get it. For a year or more now, we have been looking at polls. What we've seen is that if we divide the electorate into rough thirds (Democrat, Republican, and Indie), the public is voting with the Dems on the issues. Or, if you take the more sophisticated D-R-I polling splits, when it comes to candidates, the Dems outnumber Rs by ~9 and the Indies split. Either way, the
Republican base is isolated, out of touch and just different.And now, this is where it is coming out. They want attacks, they get whatever McCain and Palin serve up, and they eat it up. The rest of the country (aka the majority) want nothing to do with that. We and they want policy. We don't care for attacks. We want the better issues candidate.
Add in to this McCain's loser media style, the angry and frustrated older man on stage, and it's a no brainer. The polls overwhelmingly give the win(s) to Obama. McCain does not have the media skills in a modern era to win.
What comes next is the splits in the conservative and Republican ranks(Douthat, Brooks, Will, etc. vs. the wingnut Palin supporters). We've also known that that was coming (see The Coming GOP Civil War from 2006.) We saw the beginnings of that with Terri Schiavo, and we'll see more of it now.
Sarah Palin will be the focal point. She is a failed VP candidate who chases moderates away, with dropping fav/unfavs, but defending her vs not defending her will consume conservatives in the wake of a loss by McCain. And the American public knows that any pundit who can't come to grips with the massive failure of Know Nothingism at the ballot box will be consigned to the ash heap of history, along with the deeply unpopular president that John McCain can't distance himself from just by saying so (how stupid is it to think that the McCain line about "I'm not George Bush" was a turning point either in the debate or the campaign?)
So, as we feel the gusts of hot air and listen to the bloviating, listen also to the frustration that superficial issues aren't sticking this year. The rules are being rewritten, and the people following the election are going to have to deal with issues.
Too bad for the Republicans, but thank goodness for Americans. It's about time.