Debate Thoughts, 12 Hours Later

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The snap phone polls taken after the debate show Obama edging past McCain, which at first surprised me. If we view what happened in offense-defense terms, Obama was on defense most of the time, and McCain was driving the discussion. He introduced topics that Obama had to respond to; Obama didn't do any of that. He obviously knew more about the world than Obama. How could he not? And he dished out the knowledge in stories, facts, anecdotes, in a way that avoided the schoolboy ooze of Al Gore circa 2000.

If McCain lost, it was for two reasons: Issues and attitude. Attitude is probably what moved the polls, but I'll go to issues first, because the TV battlebots seemed not to understand the average opinions on them. In last year's YouTube debate, Stephen Sorta asked if the candidates would meet "separately and without precondition" with the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. Obama said he would, and it was immediately named a gaffe. But he stuck to the point (maybe out of stubbornness as much as ideology), refining it more and more as the campaign went on, to conjure up images of Nixon going to China. By and large… it's worked. When voters are asked specifically about meeting with the president of Iran, they shudder. But as Obama defines the issue, they like it: They've had (as Nixon might say) a president who "cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home without fear of a hostile demonstration" and it'd be nice to try the alternative.

This is why I thought McCain did better in the first, unexpected part of the debate, on economics. Is he unable to think about economics any way except a function of spending? No. But in talking about it, in talking about work across the aisle, and about Obama's lack of a record (or short, horrible record) on spending and taxes, McCain seemed like the get-along maverick who hates Washington as much as you do. When he attacked Obama, it was more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger. That young guy just isn't going to clean up the city like I will. When McCain talked foreign policy, he was the bellicose war-around-every-corner nut who, post-Bush, doesn't seem like the guy to hand the keys to.

Second, style. Watching replays at home, as opposed to the bustle of a Reason office with Bob Barr adding color commentary, I remembered that we were supposed to watch for signs that one guy got under the other guy's skin. McCain oozed contempt. He was feeling for a trap door switch that would throw Obama under the floorboards and let Hillary up to the podium. In most exchanges (not the surge exchange) it made McCain seem more small than dominant. Again, his arrogance isn't the kind of arrogance that doomed Gore. But Obama's responses weren't the weak and whiny responses of George W. Bush. It's one thing to repeat that your opponent "doesn't understand" anything, and another when he comes back clearly understanding and disagreeing.

It's probably a mistake for McCain to harp (in ongoing spin) on how many times Obama gently agreed with part of his points. Hell, that's what Obama does. His skill in town halls (often underrated, and I think McCain will lose the expectations game when they have their debate in that style) is his ability to give a questioner credit for his question, then slowwwwly destroy the question and the premise. I wish I had a video example of him doing this on immigration. In Iowa, especially, he'd get a question from someone who wanted to close the borders, and Obama would say "Look, I agree" with some part of what he'd said before coming down on the side of citizenship.

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  1. Very well written article and we agree, even would add McCain seemed more secure and centered throughout. Obama seemed defensive throughout.

  2. These things are subjective I guess, we thought McCain looked the least secure, especially at first. He would not look at Obama even when asked to by Leher.

  3. The snap phone polls taken after the debate show Obama edging past McCain,

    Look at the sample.

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/pollak/33632

  4. OT:

    who was the ad wizard scheduled the debate at 8pm on a freaking Friday?

  5. Tall One, it continues to interest me that there are those who would deny that media bias exists (except Fox that is).

    Heard from a friend that Obama’s arrival in Memphis and subsequent motorcade to Ole Miss was a spectacle rivaling the arrival of the Pope. No pun intended.

  6. As a newly-minted non-voter, I have no dog in this fight, but it seems to me that Obama clearly won this round. The Magic Negro came off much more statesmanlike, voicing clear, articulate opposition without appearing belligerent. After a confusing start, he seemed to be slowly and patiently explaining to Johnny why Grampa War Hero was full of shit. It didn’t appear defensive to me.

    McCain simply didn’t appear as intelligent. He couldn’t pronounce Ahmanutjob’s name. He reversed his earlier flip-fop on ethanol. He proposed freezing all spending in all but the two most out-of-control areas: entitlements and defense.

    Mac also seemed to radiate malevolence as in: How dare this uppity colored boy contradict me? I have a bracelet!! The folksy stories just came off as condescending. I don’t give a shit if some warboys reenlisted and I damn sure don’t think those mercenaries did it for “American freedom.”

  7. Stick your heads in the sand all you want, boys, the Fox focus groups showed the same thing – a solid Obama win.

    Which wasn’t my impression when the debate ended – I wrote last night that McCain had won by a nose – but facts are facts. Most people think Obama won the debate.

    If we view what happened in offense-defense terms, Obama was on defense most of the time, and McCain was driving the discussion. He introduced topics that Obama had to respond to; Obama didn’t do any of that.

    Throughout the campaign, primary and general election, the thing Obama has done best is counterpunch.

  8. Republican stalwarts are going to think this was a commanding victory for McCain, because they really, really, really think the cheap emotional manipulation about da troooooops and the surge and “never surrender” and whatnot is incredibly compelling, and they assume that the rest of the country does, too.

    Problem is…it’s 2008. The public’s made up its mind about this stuff.

  9. For what it’s worth, the informal poll at the Drudge Report indicates the opposite. Of course, that one is probably weighted just as badly towards Republicans as the CNN poll was towards Democrats.

  10. “It’s one thing to repeat that your opponent ‘doesn’t understand’ anything, and another when he comes back clearly understanding and disagreeing.”

    Spot on, David. And I’ve been impressed with how Obama has been able to use this equanimity as a strategy generally in his campaign.

    Obama took some heat when the worst of the negative attack ads against him came out, and then proceeded to kick up the heat quite a bit in tone, yet still refused to stoop to the Obvious Lie level that McCain was inhabiting at that time. Since then, Obama has become more agressive in making his points, but also very good at Akido, or the art of pure parrying defense. During moments in the debate when McCain attacked Obama as too liberal, or inexperienced, or unable to reach across the aisle, it really did seem like McCain was out of control, straining to make his point, giving the presentation a tone of desperation, and when Obama responded, it was calm, measured, and as respectful as possible given McCain’s contemptuousness.

    Keep in mind that with the mess things are in now, the next president is going to have to take a lot of really bad heat and keep his cool throughout. In watching how these two men presented themselves, it struck me just how good Obama is at intelligently responding to the heat and how McCain just seems to be full of empty bluster.

    A candidate who looks his opponent in the eye and calmly explains what he intends to do stands in stark contrast to one who turns his back to his opponent and issues petty snipes.

    My opinion is that we desperately need the former, and must not accept the latter.

  11. The only poll that matters is on November 4th.

  12. Anyone who says Obama didn’t win the debate will be prosecuted for libel. Any television or radio station permitting such lies will have it’s FCC broadcast license revoked.

  13. Is anybody else suprised that it took until the 7th season of Dancing With The Stars for ABC to use Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” in its promos?

  14. We spent all summer hearing from McCainiancs, “Obama can only deliver prepared speeches. He’s going to be toast when he has to debate McCain.”

    Not so much.

  15. It is very frustrating that their was not any mention of the simmering subject of illegal immigration? It’s strange that we all know this volatile issues, has a massive impact on ordinary taxpayers everyday of their lives. It’s so far reaching, all encompassing the Democrats for instance have done everything in their power to derail any enforcement policy. The Republicans have obviously decided that this is bad ‘Ju Ju’, because even Senator McCain has kept his thoughts on the subject, to a whisper. But 8o percent of the American people want to know, what to expect after November? With the economy in turmoil they should consider the financial drain in welfare handouts at state, county and federal level. If we keeping on importing poverty from across the globe, it is foreseen that property taxes must go up to pay for the impacted traffic on our highways, along with the pollution.
    Obama has already repeated that their will be a path to citizenship, for lawbreakers..AMNESTY! With the bailout of mega investment business and banks on the front burner. Nobody dare mention, that illegal immigration is implicated in this financial catastrophe? http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.1258/pub_detail.asp Then their is corruption in the Democratic party, to stop an enforcement law being passed. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,428082,00.html

    Please contact your Senator through the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask him/her to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow a vote this week on H.R. 6633, the House-passed E-Verify reauthorization bill. The E-Verify program will die in November if Congress does not reauthorize it before Members leave for the election recess on Friday.

    IT’S YOUR FAMILIES FUTURE. DEPORTATION OR OVERPOPULATION. IF WE DON’T STOP IT NOW, THEY WILL KEEP COMING..

    JOIN 756.000 other American patriots at http://www.numbersusa.com , to stop the travesty of our immigration laws. Learn about Immigration governmental corruption at http://www.judicialwatch.org
    PLEASE PASS ON THIS URGENT MESSAGE

  16. Brittanicus,

    That is a debate you can’t win. If there is anything Americans like better than ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” its authentic but cheap Mexican food. As we know with the drug war, there is no way the law can stop the flow of chimichangas into this country. All you do is drive the price up by trying to stop immigration.

  17. Right on, Brittanicus. I hear those “people” don’t even bleed red.

  18. “It is very frustrating that their was not any mention of the simmering subject of illegal immigration?”

    True. McCain can see Mexico from his house.

  19. Obama looks a lot better in the post-debate coverage than he did in real time last night. People who didn’t watch the debate, but see the clips, are going to think he performed really well.

    I expect we’ll see a consensus emerge that last night was a big win for Obama, based on the coverage from the networks.

  20. joe | September 27, 2008, 12:27pm | #
    We spent all summer hearing from McCainiancs, “Obama can only deliver prepared speeches. He’s going to be toast when he has to debate McCain.”

    Not so much.

    To be fair, his performance in some of the Democratic debates and that one improv news conference was terrible. For the debte, they hammered out many of his stutter ticks (‘uhms’, ‘you knows’) and he was good enough last night to at least look like he belonged on the stage. I’ve said before that he is one of the most impressive politicians out there in the one to one format interview where he doesn’t rely on partisan cliche answers and sounds like a man thinking in the moment, but this is the first time I’ve been impressed with a public, social performance from Obama (there are many smart people who wilt in this kind of setting, and just a personal bias, no one’s speech has ever done much to sway me).

  21. So Britannicus, you want me to “defend” American freedom by calling my congressman and demanding that he make it a felony to hire someone without permission from the Federal Government?

    I’m trying to think of countries where you have to get permission from the state to work, and my list consists of two countries: North Korea and Cuba.

    Hmmm. Why do you hate America, Britannicus? People made fun of your Che Gueverra T-Shirt in high school?

  22. “We spent all summer hearing from McCainiancs, “Obama can only deliver prepared speeches. He’s going to be toast when he has to debate McCain.””

    A person could only believe that if they did not watch any of Democratic Primary debates. Obama did fine there, no glaringly terrible performances. As did McCain in his GOP ones.

    “Tall One, it continues to interest me that there are those who would deny that media bias exists (except Fox that is).”

    It depends on what you mean by media bias. If you mean that most journalists, like most people in the “knowledge or new class” (people who work primarily with words and ideas for a living, such as teachers, academics, writers, etc, hey Bill Kristol’s dad was one of the people who coined the term) are more liberal than conservative, then you’re certainly correct. Poll after poll shows this. However, most of these people come out of training and very vocally idealize a professional ethos of being “objective.” Where they often come off as liberal is in their clue-lessness about the concerns of conservative people or being unaware of conservative arguments. You can see this all the time.

    However, there is not much of a coordinated effort by the left leaning journalists and the Democratic party. There is however such a thing with the GOP and their right wing media movement. Conservative foundations and think tanks provide institutional support to much of it (there used to be an old joke among conservatives about how without their sugar daddies National Review or Commentary would have been short lived affairs). The members of the right wing media go back and forth into GOP administration jobs and the media wing. And it is common knowledge that specific administrations send regular talking points to the right wing outlets which then parrot them (Scott McClellan talks about this at length in his book, Al Franken used to hilariously note it in his “follow the meme” segments).

    So you have this left leaning majority of the media trying to be objective but so ignorant of conservative thought they often fail and this small bu significant minority of the media which are quite consciously part of the GOP apparatus. As anyone can tell you, a small dedicated group of true believers who don’t play by the rules of the game will outdo a large non-coordinated group which is not aware its trying to “win” anything. And one can see that in the news. If there was a coordinated left wing attack press subordinate to the Dems like the right wing media is to the GOP we would have big stories about, say, John McCain’s adultery the way we had about the Ayers connection and such.

  23. A person could only believe that if they did not watch any of Democratic Primary debates. Obama did fine there, no glaringly terrible performances.

    If that is what you believe, you were not paying attention to what your eyes and ears were telling you.

  24. Just do this mental exercise: Katie Kouric or Terry Gross (from NPR) are certainly liberal people with a high ignorance of conservatism, but who thinks they compare badly in lack of journalistic integrity to the late Tony Snow or Bill O’Rielly? There is just nothing comparable on CBS or CNN to things that Fox regularly does, such as give prime time hours to people like Sean Hannity…

  25. True. McCain can see Mexico from his house.

    Well now, let’s be fair. He can only see Mexico from three of his houses.

  26. Alan
    It’s well known here how much I dislike Obama mainly for what I see as his weaknesses as a candidate. He seemed to do fine in all the primary debates I saw (at least 3 of them).

  27. I meant “follow the memo” segments from Al Franken’s show. Let’s not give the guy too much credit…

  28. Recall the, ‘You’re likable enough.’ debate? He looked a million miles away, disengaged with what was happening in that room, and it played a part in making the rest of the campaign an uphill battle for him as democrats still fostered doubts about him.

  29. I don’t know how you guys can watch this stuff without punching yourselves in the nuts (GREENMAN!) repeatedly. Weigel I get–he gets paid. Tell me you were drinking, baked, or chasing the dragon. Or all three.

  30. That debate they were sitting at a table and he often was writing notes. Yes, I remember that, I thought he did fine in that debate and his “uphill battle” probably had something to do with the fact that he ran into states with heavy pockets of working class whites (where he underperforms) and was running against a woman with tons of money, endorsements and huge name recognition. A very small % of voters probably saw any of those primary debates, much less were swayed by anything they saw.

  31. I was hung over Epi, does that count? And drunk for all three primary debates I mentioned.

    American politics is at a low level and so a soused person can keep up with better than a sober person.

  32. “McCain can see Mexico from his house.”

    Is that where Putin rears his head into US airspace?

  33. THEY PLAYED THE DEBATES AND CANCELED ‘OW! MY BALLS’.

    THEN I ASKED, AND THEY SAID, “GO AWAY. DEBATIN”.

    /KICKS SELF IN TAINT

  34. I was hung over Epi, does that count?

    Why weren’t you having some of the hair of the dog that bit you?

    Friday nights are not the time to be watching two clowns debate each other. Friday nights are the time to watch naked women wrestling in jello or mud. And then you join them.

  35. “Why weren’t you having some of the hair of the dog that bit you?”

    Because of my wife and family always bitching about my supposed “alcoholism,” that’s why.

    “Jerri: What was in that?!
    Sara: Breakfast!
    Jerri: Well, what kind of breakfast was that?
    Sara: A cup of rum cake… We just ran out of flour.”

  36. I wish that was my friday night Episi.I had to settle for 20 mg of oxycocdone, a bowl,and a quart of Tecate for the debate. I was feeling really good about America for like,4 hours.

  37. THE MEDIA THE MEDIA THE MEDIA THE MEDIA STOLE IT!!! WAAAH!

  38. SIV–

    You did seem rather chill on that thread when you said “both did much better than expected!”

    Now I know why.

  39. I wish i had a video example of him doing this on immigration. In Iowa, especially, he’d get a question from someone who wanted to close the borders, and Obama would say “Look, I agree” with some part of what he’d said before coming down on the side of citizenship.

    The Orange Line calls, and I respond!

    * Obama lies and misleads about immigration (find the video yourself)

    * Obama lies about the CFR, confirms NAFTA Superhighway (video!)

    At the start of 2007, I went to a BHO appearance but there wasn’t a Q&A session. However, if I had had the chance to engage him on this topic, he probably wouldn’t be the nominee right now. If enough people ask him some of my questions, he’s going to lose by a mile.

    Dave Weigel: how’s it feel to be little more than someone shilling someone else’s book?

  40. Anyway I thought it was a tie. But apparently, Obama won. I guess a tie for him on McCain’s home turf (foreign policy) is interpreted as a win by the public at large.

  41. I will also say that both are much better than Bush and Kerry. Or Bush and Gore.

  42. The members of the right wing media go back and forth into GOP administration jobs and the media wing.

    MNG, gotta call you on this one. While I agree there never has been any coordination on the left re: media bias, it was pointed out back in the Clinton years that this was going on with his administration staff writ large.

    Honestly, (and in Clinton’s defense) I think this is a modern trend, and not something that represents… coordinating.

    Clinton’s administration just happened to be at the forefront of this trend. Since Clinton, we’ve had eight more years of ‘conservative’ administration, and as such, that’s a long time and a long list of people to move into the media game.

    Think of it like sports. You play for your team for a few years, and then when you retire, you go into commentating.

    Make of that what you will.

  43. If this were 1980, and there were no internet, no talk radio, no Fox News, etc, I’d agree with conservatives that the media is biased.

    But now, with all those things coming into play, “The Media” are too diverse to be “biased” in one direction or another. You can get right wing, left wing, or just settle for C-SPAN. They’re ALL “the media” now. People who pretend like the three networks really have this all-pervasive, monopolistic influence are stuck in a time warp.

  44. And newspapers? PLEASE! They’re bleeding circulation numbers.

  45. Mr. Nice Guy,

    I like to read Reason and Hit & Run because they are amusing, well written, libertarian, and intelligent. However, I don’t think I have ever actually truly learned anything on this board until I read your comments about right wing media (and I am 100% serious about this- no sarcasm meant at all). I had never looked at the difference between left and right wing media bias like that before. I had always felt that they were two sides of the same coin. Now I have a new perspective that makes much more sense. Thanks.

  46. BDB,

    I think the reason Obama did better in the polls than a lot of people perceived the debate is due to weighting of importance. Heck, I thought McCain won. Obama did better in the first half, McCain did much better in the second half, but the first half had all the shit people really cared about and once it got to Georgia and missile defense, people started tuning out, changing channels or not caring.

  47. That’s a good point Mo. People don’t want to hear about Da Surg and Da Trooooops during the financial crisis. No wonder McCain didn’t want to debate.

  48. After watching the debate I hope I never go to prison.

  49. Also, the more Republicans bitch about the media, the more of a loss it was for them. That’s the thing to watch for.

  50. MNG,

    A person could only believe that if they did not watch any of Democratic Primary debates. Obama did fine there, no glaringly terrible performances.

    I would say that the very last one he did with Hillary was a terrible performance, and since it was the last one, it stuck in people’s minds. But you’re right, if you’d watched him in a few more of the 743 primary debates, it was clear that he could handle himself ok, and that one was an outlier.

    BDB,

    Are you kidding? John Kerry was the best debater I’ve ever seen.

  51. People don’t want to hear about Da Surg and Da Trooooops during the financial crisis.

    And also, they made up their minds years ago about Iraq.

  52. Joe-

    I’m talking about in terms of personality. Neither of them grate on me like Bush, Kerry, or Gore did.

  53. And really, Bush was more terrible than Kerry was good in that first debate in 2004.

    I mean, if you’re debating a guy that says “Presidenting is haaaaaard!” you don’t need to do much to blow him out of the water.

  54. There is just nothing comparable on CBS or CNN to things that Fox regularly does, such as give prime time hours to people like Sean Hannity…

    Why would they? And why do you think Fox has the reputation they have… and the popularity? Any port in a storm, comes to mind.

    Fox is naturally going to be a horrendously bright light in a dim land from the red state republican’s point of view.

    You also have to look at media bias from, as you say, an uncoordinated point of view.

    Bias doesn’t always come in the form of opinion making, and underlying commentary on the part of the reporter. Often, it comes in the form of story selection. A media organization can do very objective reporting on the following stories:

    How globalization is hurting the third world.
    Global Warming: How fast should we act?
    Cities fighting uphill battle to fight urban sprawl.

    I’m not trying to suggest that this is a problem exclusive of the left. However, your story repertoire can say much about your news organization.

    If you listen to the real lefty news outlets, they repeatedly point out stories not even covered by MSM. Their point being that the lack of this coverage is proof of their bias.

  55. I think Obama left a lot of points on the field.

    He fouled off a lot of hanging curve balls.

    When the words FINISH HIM! appeared on the screen, he didn’t seem to remember the combination to do the fire ball thingy.

  56. “When the words FINISH HIM! appeared on the screen, he didn’t seem to remember the combination to do the fire ball thingy.”

    Hillary Clinton would have remembered.

  57. BDB,

    I mean, if you’re debating a guy that says “Presidenting is haaaaaard!” you don’t need to do much to blow him out of the water.

    Bush was no worse against Kerry than he was against Gore.

    You don’t have to do much to beat such an opponent, but you do have to have some game to rout him the way Kerry did.

  58. Hillary Clinton would have done the thing where she rips his spine out. And smiled sweetly the whole time.

  59. Well, Al Gore really hoisted his on petard in those 2000 debates.

    I think Kerry’s decade plus of debating in the Senate stopped him from doing that. Gore had been away too long.

  60. Also the thing about McCain not looking at Obama is going to get a ridiculous amount of play in the next week. That’s not helping McCain, at all. Kind of like Bush’s weird facial expressions in 2004.

  61. Which wasn’t my impression when the debate ended – I wrote last night that McCain had won by a nose

    I agree. It was very close, but I thought McCain came off just slightly better. Did anyone else watch McCain last night and think “No way Bush beat this guy. No way.”?

    At the start of 2007, I went to a BHO appearance but there wasn’t a Q&A session. However, if I had had the chance to engage him on this topic, he probably wouldn’t be the nominee right now.

    HAW HAW HAW HAW Haaaaaaaaawww! Ha.

    So precious.

  62. “Did anyone else watch McCain last night and think “No way Bush beat this guy. No way.”?

    Are you aware that John McCain is not a Christian, and that he also has an illegitimate black child?

  63. I wish that was my friday night Episi.I had to settle for 20 mg of oxycocdone, a bowl,and a quart of Tecate for the debate. I was feeling really good about America for like,4 hours.

    20 mg?!? Dude, that is a serious oxy dose. Well fucking done.

  64. Hillary Clinton would have done the thing where she rips his spine out. And smiled sweetly the whole time.

    No, no, no. She would have done the one where she rips off the face mask to reveal a grinning skull, then incinerated him with a fireball from the mouth.

  65. So, can we officially say now that swiftboating did not work in this election?

    What ever happened to Corsi’s book?

  66. She would have done the one where she rips off the face mask to reveal a grinning skull, then incinerated him with a fireball from the mouth.

    Or turned into a dragon and bitten off his torso.

  67. I too think that McCain clearly dominated, for the same reasons. McCain controlled the floor, while Obama was forced into reactive mode, most of the time. He got off a lot more points and referenced more issues. There were a lot of wide open opening for Obama to go after McCain, that he didn’t take, and then he flubbed on the Kissinger thing, and was left holding a bag of shit on North Korea.

    Course, I tuned in after the first 10 minutes, so I missed the whole thing at the beginning about how they were supposed to be addressing eachother directly.

  68. Paul Newman is dead? Thats too bad. I loved him in “Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man.”

  69. Obama’s whole campaign strategy right now (a smart one, IMO) is defensive–he’s playing it cool, doing his thing, and letting the other guy make unforced errors (Palin, campaign suspension in order to go to Washington to “help”, “fundamentals are sound,” etc). It seems like an extended rope-a-dope to me, and that as long as he dispelled the teleprompter meme last night he was in pretty good shape.

  70. You can’t deny that there’s a pervasive pattern of liberal bias in most media. NPR and PBS want to keep their phony-baloney funding coming in. This election has been the perfect test for bias, and just look how liberal outlets have treated McCain and especially Palin, as compared to BHO. Also, look at their struggle to brand FOX News (relatively moderate) and Bill O’Reily (an independent) as conservative extremists. FOX allows Alan Colmes to represent the left. Would any other mainstream outlet ever allow a strong voice like Hannity?

    It does matter. There’s a war on, and the media has helped demoralize the nation. And it isn’t telling the truth about spending or immigration.

    The debate proved that BHO is out of touch with normal Americans. Like Gore, Kerry, Dukakis and a long line of liberal failures, he’s a stuck up pointy headed liberal, and real people won’t buy it. Reagan changed the game forever. Only a master con man like Clinton could make anyone sign off on a socialist platform, and they won’t be fooled for long. The liberal media made Obama their rock star, and now that he’s failing against McCain, they’re regretting it. I didn’t hear anything from him but stammering, flip-flopping, and unpatriotic garbage.

  71. Miller, you sound a little desperate.

  72. Given the expense of cathode ray tubes, I passed on the debate figuring I’d read the transcript online.

    I couldn’t make it through the transcript. Neither was saying anything that resonates with me at all.

    Bob Barr ’08.

  73. FOX allows Alan Colmes to represent the left.

    How generous.

    You, MIller, are out of touch with normal Americans.

  74. To TallDave Above-

    That sample is about where Gallups party ID sample for their polls are. There are simply more Democrats than Republicans in this country now.

    And even among just independents, Obama won in that poll.

  75. BTW, TallDave, still waiting for those National Review articles from September 2000 and September 1980 that were telling GWB and Reagan, respectively, to get off of the ticket for “The good of the country”.

    Hell, I’ll settle for September 1988 and Quayle.

  76. I was a baseball game last night, but judging from what I’ve seen on YouTube, Obama had a decent night. He stayed calm, focused, knew his stuff, and didn’t look a bit like the scary-black nationalist-Muslim-communist that they talk about in viral emails.

    Since McCain’s best hope all along is that Independent voters decide that Obama’s too weird for them to support, this is a win.

    And I really liked the bit where he pulled out his own bracelet and talked about how his Gold Star Mother didn’t want to see more young Americans die in Iraq. Nice illustration of the Sunk Costs Fallacy, and nice use of an anecdote by a guy who doesn’t do that much.

  77. Interesting development in party splits: All year, Gallup has had Obama further ahead than Rasmussen, because Gallup uses registered voters and Rasmussen uses likely voters, and assumptions about who would turn out were worth a couple of points more for McCain.

    Now, it’s switched. Rasmussen is showing better numbers for Obama, because their screening for likely voters is now favoring him.

  78. Weigle i hate to get in between you and your love for Obama but….

    The results may be favoring Obama simply because more Democrats than Republicans tuned in to the debate. Of the debate-watchers questioned in this poll, 41 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 30 percent as independents.

  79. JC–

    That’s around where Party ID as a whole nationally sits. A low double-digit lead for Democrats. Read above.

    The only problem was a slight oversampling of independents.

  80. It’s been my impression that whichever candidate one supported, one was inclined to think they “lost.” Personally, I’m an Obama supporter, and I had it as McCain by a nose. Most McCain supporters seem to think Obama did better (so it seems to me). I think both camps have such inflated views of their own candidate and such a low opinion of the other that all the partisans came away disappointed. That leaves the few, the uninformed, the undecided, and they seem to prefer Obama for what I would guess are largely stylistic reasons. McCain sounded angry and couldn’t stay on any subject, his answers – while snappy, didn’t make a lot of sense to whatever question was asked. But most important, Obama looked at the camera, the real audience. McCain didn’t.

  81. I feel kind of bad for Miller. That Palingasm hangover must be really painful.

    MNG, that’s some sharp analysis. Thank you. The word “media” is plural. At this point, talking about “the media” as some ominous entity is absurd.

  82. I saw the debate then I listened to the debate replay later in the evening. McCain cleaned Obama’s clock on substance but Obama cleaned McCain’s clock on style and presence.
    The flawed CNN poll taken after the debate had Obama up 51 to 49. I don’t know the pool size but CNN even said that they polled more dems than republicans. So…the dems could only squeeze out 51% in a poll biased in their favor. That’s pretty pathetic.

  83. “Bias doesn’t always come in the form of opinion making, and underlying commentary on the part of the reporter. Often, it comes in the form of story selection.”

    Sure, you are correct. But think of it this way: Fox and CBS will have bias through story selection, but then Fox has this commentary bias built in on top of that. I never said you won’t see leftist bias in the media, I just said it is not the coordinated and specifically partisan apparatus we find among right wing media. I mean, the right wing media is often quite conscious about what it is doing (read some of what the owner of the Washington Times said he was aiming for in creating the paper).

    Miller-I’m not sure there is any analysis rather than bald assertion in your post for me to debate with. It’s pointless for me to try to convince you or anyone that Fox is not “moderate” or that O’Rielly is “independent” (of thought and integrity?) as they may well be, compared to yourself, both. But try this: surely you would agree that Fox is to the left of CBS and NPR? And can you imagine anything like a left wing version of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity during a prime time spot on CBS or NPR? Or could you imagine Tim Russert becoming Obama’s press secretary (Tony Snow)? That kind of thing is regular for right wing media outlets and specific Republican administrations (think Tony Blankley or Roger Ailes).

    PBS had this show by Bill Moyers which is full of leftist twaddle if you ask me. But I specifically remember how they gave Tucker Carlson and Peggy Noonan shows as well. They had this nagging need to provide some kind of balance. You won’t see that on Fox, or the Washington Times opinion page, or of course on right wing talk radio…

  84. Do you still think Obama will lose, MNG?

  85. Boths sides of our life lonf Republican families are jumping ship and voting for Obama. He by far better qualified for the job in every way, McCain’s policies are all flawed and a continuance of the failed one’s that got us in this mess. McCain’s policies will kill the Middle Class because his tax breaks only help the richest people. While Obama only wants to tax the wealthiest people more, definately not the Working/Middle Class. The policies McCain supports have already hurt the ‘average’ American tremendously. Obama also has a MUCH better Defense/International Policy. If you have a disagreement with someone you sit down and discuss it, you don’t punish/repremand that person into submission like McCain implies. We don’t want our children dieing is some senseless war because old man McCain has some personal scores to settle from back in the day. He is to unstable to run this country.

  86. I still think Obama will lose. He only “won the debate” because Palin’s America was busy attending HS football games.

  87. SIV,

    The debate got an overnight total household rating of 33.2. In comparison, the record for a Super Bowl is 41.6. There are these things called facts, you should look into them.

    Are you really Caesar?

  88. I doubt SIV is Ceasar. I often wonder what happened to him.

    I think its a toss-up BDB, with advantage to McCain. I went to pollster.com the other day and most of the toss-up states still had Obama behind.

    I just don’t see how a Democrat is going to win this without winning either FL or OH…

  89. Mr. Nice Guy:
    Thank you for mentioning Pollster. McCain is winning every serious battleground state. The liberals need a miracle, or it’s not even a contest.

    FOX News has some conservative hosts who call it like they see it, but they also have plenty of liberal guests, and Alan Colmes is a co-host. You’re buying into a misconception. If you watched the O’Reily Factor, you would have heard him say many times that he is an independent. At the least, O’Reily and Hannity call it like they see it. Liberal bias is more offensive because it is sneaky.

    You’re also forgetting about Clinton hacks like James Carville and George Stephanopolis, who have successful media careers on liberal channels. And no conservative commentator is a sickening and manipulative as Michael Moore, who gets more media attention than any of them. There is also a liberal bias in almost all entertainment programming, which usually demonizes the rich and promotes unhealthy lifestyles. It’s one of the main reasons why liberalism is “cool” among those too young to know better.

    Libertarians need to stay on track. We represent economic freedom and personal responsibility. McCain isn’t perfect, but he’s our only real dog in this race.

  90. Miller and MNG,

    Is Colorado no longer a toss up? BHO just needs one of VA, CO, OH or FL. Both fivethirtyeight and RCP have Obama running away with it.

    If you watched the O’Reily Factor, you would have heard him say many times that he is an independent. At the least, O’Reily and Hannity call it like they see it.

    And the guys on CNN and the major networks say they’re objective. It doesn’t make it true. So when O’Reilly called Jamie Lynn Spears a slut for getting pregrnant, but said Bristol’s was private, that was completely independent of ideology?

  91. Substance is the key. McCain showed none in his answers. He told us more about where he traveled and who he talk with, what he going to do for the Vets. Staying in Iraq. Nothing about doing for people here at home. He’s weak on healthcare, The economy, unemployment, Taxes, Nothing on Middle class problems. He one track. Same old talk. It’s so sad that people only hear what they want to hear. The truth is, if you want the same vote McCain.
    Obama 08

  92. @dreamscape:

    Go to bed, kid. McCain was all over Obama on substance. McCain doesn’t have to talk about the “middle class” because he’s talking about what they want: less government spending, strong national security, strong values, and the free market. But then, you don’t care about that, do you? Go join your peace rally.

  93. Miller says: We represent economic freedom and personal responsibility. McCain isn’t perfect, but he’s our only real dog in this race.

    Now I see why we differ so much. Of the freedoms that I value most, economic freedom is pretty far down the list this year. Not torturing innocent people and not locking innocent people up without charges or trial are much farther up my list. I figure it’s hard to enjoy economic freedoms while being waterboarded, but I respect your right to disagree.

    That said, I don’t think all of McCain’s wars are going to make our economy more free over the next few decades, either. I tend to agree with Randolph Bourne, war is the health of the state.

    So the way I see it, McCain is the least libertarian of the three choices.

    Oh, and Colmes is on Fox because he’s so bad at representing the liberal viewpoint–even where the liberals are right (don’t torture!) he can’t represent it well. (Heck, watching him is torture.)

  94. Miller,

    As Obama pointed out, the only spending McCain is interested in curbing are the relatively minuscule earmark expenses. And just because McCain is against nationalized healthcare, doesn’t make him for the “free market”; the current health care oligarchy is as far from the free market as nationalized healthcare, probably further.

    Face it, both of the candidates showed substance. And it can be argued that on the issues, Obama is more aligned with the american public.

  95. Thank you for mentioning Pollster. McCain is winning every serious battleground state.

    As a matter of fact, Pollster.com has Obama with 229 EVs locked up. He’s leading in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, which gets him to 269 and a probably victory in the House. He’s also tied in New Hampshire, which would get him to 273 and an outright win. Most people consider each of those a serious battleground state.

    Electoral-Vote.com give Obama 286, with the above states + Virginia.

  96. realclearpolitics has Obama winnin 228-163 with 147 tossups. Counting tossups in which Obama leads by at least 2.5 points, he gets up to 269.

    With all tossup states given to the candidate that’s leading, Obama gets 286.

  97. Florida and Ohio?

    Dude, what year are you in?

    This year it’s Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. Indiana, too.

  98. Anyway FiveThirtyEight is better than any of those sites. They use an actual mathematical model instead of this BS averaging of the latest polls.

  99. “You’re also forgetting about Clinton hacks like James Carville and George Stephanopolis, who have successful media careers on liberal channels.” Stephanopolis went the other direction than Tony Snow (politics to journalism rather than journalism to politics).

    “If you watched the O’Reily Factor, you would have heard him say many times that he is an independent. At the least, O’Reily and Hannity call it like they see it.” That first comment is just terrible Miller. You should ask yourself “what about my partisanship blinds me so badly that I would think that is an argument that is anything but laughable?” And I don’t think Hannity or Bill O calls things the way they see them, they call things the way the conservative movement at the time sees them.

    “There is also a liberal bias in almost all entertainment programming” Agreed. Hollywood has a tremondous, obvious, unsubtle liberal bias. But I thought we were talking about news media which I argue has a majority that leans left and a significant minority which makes a conscious effort to further the conservative movement and the GOP in particular.

    “BHO just needs one of VA, CO, OH or FL” Uhh, he’s going to lose all of them except maybe CO.

    “This year it’s Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. Indiana, too.” He will lose all of those except maybe CO.

  100. I think whenever someone says that candidate x lost the debate “on substance” what they mean is “candidate x was wrong on the substance” and what they mean by that is “I agree with the substance of what candidate x said.”

  101. Uh, MNG? He’s well ahead in Virginia (I live here, in the tri-cities area). It’s breaking for him hard. Colorado is borderline locked.

  102. NOTE: I am not a Democrat and thought the Dems would blow it once again until Denver and Palin.

  103. Tie. Whichever candidate one agrees with more will be the one who “won.”

    Only unexpected thing that turned my head was McCain’s advocacy of a spending freeze on everything but defense, infrastructure and entitlements.

  104. I think Obama gained here. Now, on substance, I think it was a tie. That is, if you read the transcript of the debate, or maybe if you heard just the audio, it was a tie. Specifically, McCain won the economic part with all the talk about taxes and earmarks, and Obama won the foreign policy part, with McCain being tounge tied on multiple occasions there. This is the opposite of what the conventional wisdom would have thought would happen. But McCain’s style was all wrong. He wouldn’t look Obama in the eye, and came off as the crazy, grumpy, unpredictable, old man that many people think he is (McCain’s threatening to not go to the debate helped with this meme). Obama looked calm, cool, and well, “presidential”. So you have to give the “win” to Obama, overall.

    In any case, even if it was a tie, Obama was already ahead. Ties go to the candidate who’s ahead.

  105. @WTF?:
    I’m not going to throw my freedoms away because some terrorist got slapped around.

    @Caged Lion:
    McCain mentioned a broad spending freeze on everything but the essentials. Maybe you should put some more tinfoil on your rabbit ears.

  106. BDB
    I just got back from realclearpolicitc.com and I can envision a scenario, based on their numbers, where Obama wins. He takes NM, CO, NH, WI, MN, MI, and PA. If you click on those on the map he gets a little over 270, and he is ahead in all of those states according to the numbers up now.

    I grew up in Virginia and while yes the dynamics there are changing a bit VA just does not go Democratic in Presidential races. They have not in decades. Ditto NC. He is behind in FL and OH and I just don’t see him making it up there.

  107. “@WTF?:
    I’m not going to throw my freedoms away because some terrorist got slapped around.”

    Who cares if they lock up druggies, because I’m not a druggie. Who cares if they take away rights from gays, because I’m not gay. Who cares if they send our troops to die in pointless wars, since I am not in the military right now?

  108. “McCain mentioned a broad spending freeze on everything but the essentials.”

    Yeah, he’s gonna cut all the wasteful spending like his GOP predecessor said he would do…

  109. MNG–

    I think VA and NC go Democrat this time along with CO, NM, IA+the Kerry states. The latter (NM and IA) are already locks. CO borderline so.

  110. No way in hell McCain turns any blue state red in this environment. Especially since Kerry states=the “bare bones” Democrat states.

  111. Miller

    Do you think the Republicans have performed in the Executive office in the last eight years in a manner that deserves their return to that office? No matter what your feelings on the Iraq war people on the left and right agree it was poorly implemented and managed until at least very recently. No matter what your feelings on disaster relief people on the left and right agree that FEMA’s response to Katrina was pathetic. No matter what you feel is the proper role of government the federal budget has swelled. No matter what you feel about our economy people on the left and right agree it is a mess right now. No matter how you felt about the prescription drug bill passed under Bush people on the left and right agree that it was very poorly implemented in a way that cost the government a lot of money.

    You think that record should be recorded with four more years? Yuck.

  112. Oh for those horrible Clinton years when the economy hummed along, we got the last major free trade agreement, the first real welfare reform, no major wars or torture and we had balanced budgets. God, those were horrible times from a libertarian perspective, certainly glad we replaced that with the libertarian friendly GOP the last eight years…

  113. Oh, and MNG, four years ago where I live it was 80% Bush-Cheney signs in the yard. Now about 70% Obama-Biden. Make of that what you will.

  114. I’d like to think you are right BDB, but I spent too many years in that state to believe otherwise until I see it…

  115. Don’t get me wrong, I had problems with Clinton. And Obama.

    But like John McCain I believe in accountability. The GOP deserves another eight years in charge about as bad as the 1994 Dems deserved another two years in charge of the House…

  116. Anybody notice what I noticed, about the analysis on tv and particularly on cnn, that the commentators seem to remark and analyze based on their favorites. That is, I feel they are “for” a candidate in the first place and therefore are not giving an impartial and unbiased analysis. To me, it appears that most are picking out and interpreting pieces of the debate to support their preconceived opinions rather than doing vice versa, forming opinions based on the facts of the debate. It is disappointing.

  117. BDB-what is the tri-cities area in VA, Bristol?

    I grew up in Richmond. Left VA about 8 years ago but still visit my ma and pa now and then.

    I voted for Chuck Robb and John Warner a couple of times. Wished I could have voted for Webb.

  118. Tri-cities=Petersburg/Hopewell/Colonial Heights (and Fort Lee). This is usually solidly Republican. Now it’s trending Democrat, and no big demographic changes in the last four years.

  119. The foreclosure crisis is hitting us hard, that’s what I figure. The housing market is like the killing fields here.

  120. I voted for John Warner-R over Mark Warner-D, which may surprise some here who see me as one of the house liberals.

    Voted for Clinton in (Jerry Brown supporter in the primaries) 92, Perot in 96, Buchanan in 00, Kerry in 04.

  121. Petersburg I’m sure has voted Democrat for years as it is about 80-90% African-American. Colonial Heights, if I remember correctly, was this white enclave near Petersburg which I remember voting GOP. I dated a girl who lived in Hopewell a while, but I can’t immediately remember the politics there…

  122. I live in the Petersburg suburbs/Fort Lee. This is usually, 100% solidly Republican. Totally not this year.

    Even Colonial Heights is up for grabs.

  123. I mean, CH, for a BLACK guy. Named HUSEEIN. I thought that would never happen.

  124. If Colonial Heights has Obama signs outnumbering McCain then McCain is indeed in trouble…

    Fort Lee is that Army base near the mall (was it Southpark Mall or Southside Mall?) they put in a while back, right?

  125. Yeah, you’re right. You know this area well. Southpark Mall blows though.

    But the foreclosure crisis is TERRIBLE here. That’s why McCain is in trouble around here. And if it’s this bad here, it’s probably awful in NoVA. I can’t see Virginia going red again. Hard to believe, I know.

  126. Yeah, the Buchanan vote…I liked Perot in 92 as a possible hope for a real viable third party movement. So I supported him in 96 and Buchanan when he won the Reform Party nomination in 00. The goal was to keep the Reform Party winning enough % to get federal matching funds. Of course, like many movements, it never survived its founder’s departure and his increasinlgy recognized goofiness…

  127. Also, BHO has a chance here where HRC would NEVER, EVER, not in a million years have.

  128. “Yeah, you’re right. You know this area well. Southpark Mall blows though.” Like I said, I dated a gal who lived in that area for a while. We went to Southpark Mall, and yeah, it blew even then.

    When I lived there folks like me from east richmond had to take 95 to Southpark. I hear they have all these new roads that zip a person into Chesterfield and beyond now…Must have been Gerald Baliles road money…

  129. Liberal bias is more offensive because it is sneaky.

    HAW HAW HAW HAW HAAAAAAAWWWW! Oh, Lord, it’s just too much.

    McCain mentioned a broad spending freeze on everything but the essentials.

    Defense + Medicare + Medicaid + Social Security + Veterans’ Benefits = 62.2% of outlays as of 2008. (Pie chart here .) That’s all stuff he’s willing to increase spending on, at the very least. Other entitlements he may be including in the essentials list: Education + Retirement & Disability + Food & Nutrition Assistance + Unemployment + Earned Income Tax Credit = 11%.

    Oh, and paying interest on the debt is another 8.5%. You can’t just say we’ll freeze those payments where they’re at.

    So that’s almost two thirds of the budget he’d allow to increase, and about 80% of the budget stands a decent chance of increasing. The rest can stand still. I’m not seeing smaller government.

  130. BDB-tru dat, the Clintons were hated in VA with a passion. I never thought HRC would do better than Obama there. In fact, I’ve always thought HRC was an amazingly risky candidate in her own right (her negatives were just so high). I do think she would have had a better chance at FL and OH. But she would have lost Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana off the bat.

  131. “Liberal bias is more offensive because it is sneaky.

    HAW HAW HAW HAW HAAAAAAAWWWW! Oh, Lord, it’s just too much.”

    It’s so subtle that sometimes only hard core conservatives can discern it…

  132. Yeah I actually know about three arch-racists that are voting for Obama because “he’s one of the good ones” in their words when they would never, ever vote for HRC.

  133. Are you getting Warner and Gilmore ads? My mom says she has yet to see a Gilmore one. Any polls on that race, perhaps in the old Richmond-Times Disgrace?

  134. The Gilmore ads are horribly bad. I mean, painful to watch. Seriously, I could do a better job on YouTube if you gave me $200.

  135. One thing I remember about VA politics is that since it always leaned red the Dems would nominate a very accomplished candidate and the GOP would often nominate a real dunce (look up Mike Farris) and that was the way the Dems would win. Maybe that’s why I tend to think the national party is not conservative enough in picking its nominee’s.

  136. Well BDB, I hope you’re happy because this walk down nostalgia lane is making me decide to call my mom 2morrow 😉

  137. Miller says: I’m not going to throw my freedoms away because some terrorist got slapped around.

    What makes you think we’ve tortured only (any?) terrorists? I didn’t realize many libertarians were that trusting of the government. We’ve tortured people the government says are terrorists, but they haven’t offered much (any?) evidence. I tend to assume anything the government says is untrue until proven…what’s that phrase…beyond a reasonable doubt, but I respect your right to trust government unconditionally.

    I imagine that some of the folks we tortured at Guantanamo were terrorists (before they went in–they all are, now). But I can’t imagine that they’re all guilty of something, and I bet some of the folks we tortured at Abu Ghraib were innocent, too.

    So, I get that you’re okay with torturing criminals–not my thing, really, but I get it–but I just don’t get being okay with torturing innocent people. And I really don’t get why someone who went through what McCain went through would make that legal.

  138. “This year it’s Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. Indiana, too.” He will lose all of those except maybe CO.

    MNG,

    If BHO gets Colorado and Iowa on top of the Kerry states, the election is over. Anything else is style points (the fewer the better, otherwise he can get a lot more out of Congress due to “mandate”).

  139. But the foreclosure crisis is TERRIBLE here. That’s why McCain is in trouble around here. And if it’s this bad here, it’s probably awful in NoVA. I can’t see Virginia going red again. Hard to believe, I know.

    I live in HI but still vote in the Va 8th where I grew up.

    On paper, there are pretty big foreclosure problems in Fairfax county, and even more so in Prince William and Fauquier. (and possibly Loudon as well), but I would say it has negligible political impact (mainly because the people who are being hit are still at the margins politically, e.g. recent immigrants). These areas continue to have the highest median per capita income in the *country* and more importantly, the employment picture is well above the national average due to the federal govt base.

    The inner suburbs (Arl, Falls Church, Alex) have trended more liberal for years (Moran’s been the Congressman since I’ve been eligible to vote) due to increased urbanization (esp in the proverbial Orange Line corridor) that has created a ‘culture’ in most of the area no different than well-off enclaves of most cities. And which is definitely different than tradition ‘suburban culture’ and even more so then the rest of Virginia.

    Last, the Republicans of NoVa have mostly been more of the Eisenhower/Rockefeller sort; they don’t have a visceral aversion to govt, being as that is their livelihood. They, and the areas ‘swing’ voters, tend to be centrist Broderist ‘good government’ types, who have been totally alienated by the last eight years of ‘not-good government’. This is most clearly exemplified by Tom Davis’s 11th seat (which was gerrymandered to be Republican when Wolf’s Tenth was pushed west and the 8th moved into Arlington) will likely go Democrat this year.

    On the other hand, of all the Republicans that ran this year, only McCain has the advantages that keep Virginia close: his Navy background, and party bucking reputation. And when I was in NoVa a few weeks ago, McCain and Palin were able to draw a huge crowd to a rally in Fairfax City (they originally had it in a school, but with twice as many rsvp’s as they expected, and some issues on the propriety of doing it during school hours, they moved it to a park)

    All of which is to say that this is going to be very close and everyone is gearing up for it to be so. Both sides have an aggressive ad campaign and an even more aggressive ground game. They are each building the structural support in the anticipation that this will be as close as Fl in 2000 and Oh in 2004, and want to be ready to ‘do battle’ on any front.

    Long term, though I could see Va staying red for a while. We see how Fl has been leaning red this entire campaign, despite the trend of the 90’s cumulating in the coin flip of 2000. Similarly, Democratic overreach, and/or Republicans getting their grove back, could keep Virginia close but red for years to come; at least to the next great political realignment for which we’re getting overdo.

  140. Notice that McCain never looked at Obama and always referred to him in the third person. Arrogance? Fear? Temper control? Would he handle world leaders the same way? He looked as tho’ he was about to explode. How rude!

  141. I disagree about O’Reilly. He’s materially different from the likes of Hannity.

    He’s still a hugely-biased wingnut, but he’s his own man. He doesn’t take RNC marching orders the way most people at Fox does.

  142. Mo,

    The SuperBowl is on 1 channel, not the top 5 simultaneously. The real story is that most of the TV audience didn’t watch the debates, the only thing on Broadcast TV at the time.

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