"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Friday, October 03, 2008

Post VP Debate Analysis

The only VP Debate of the year is over and Palin is probably breathing a big sigh of relief as she actually didn't do half bad and it seems the polls and pundits agree.

The main theme for Joe Biden is "change" and that McCain is more of the same. For Sarah Palin it was McCain "is the Maverick" and also "change". In both cases the goal and the focus was to sell their Presidential candidate with less focus on themselves. The main difference was style. Biden focused on facts and information, Palin focused on connecting with the audience.

I have the opinion that the election is decided on three main things. First is party, second is likeability and in a very distance third are the issues. When it comes to likeability, Palin's focus on "gosh shucks" type talk and keeping things simple with "beauty pageant" type responses that lack substance but are pleasing to the ear probably will be a big boom to the McCain campaign and something to build on. Just keep her away from the press as she demonstrated that she clearly was working almost exclusively from prepared responses and the unpredictable nature of the press is still beyond her skill set.

Biden did better on facts but I think failed to connect with the audience. He tried to avoid being condescending but sadly did little to alleviate the "elitist" badge that somehow was tied to the Democrats. His frequent use of "let me repeat that" type moments probably didn't go over to well and should have been avoided. His best moment was towards the end when talking about his wife and child but that wasn't enough. For those that are focused on the issues he was a clear winner but likeability trumps issues so his inability to sell the "he is like me" to the electorate washed out his strong showing.

The net result is the Biden "won" the Vice Presidential Debate. However, because expectations where so utterly low for Palin, she is going to be given a huge boost for getting out of the debate without major errors. So while Biden technically achieves the victory, the increase in profile and likeability for Palin results in a wash.

For those that already like each of them will simply like them more. For those already leaning towards one just received confirmation of a decision they had really already made but wasn't willing to admit. The true undecideds (which I think only represent about 8% at this point) will remain neutral as the debate did nothing except make them more receptive to Palin and thus McCain. As a result they will probably wait it out for the final two presidential debates.

In the overall electoral college and state polling, same thing. There will be movement but ultimately already leaning blue will become bluer and leaning red will become redder. Any gains in one state will be offset by losses in another, resulting in at most a +1 or 2 advantage for Obama. Not enough to lock the election.

Some links:
Debate transcript - Something worth reading as your getting just the information without voices, body language and the like that may impact it. What I noticed is what you pic up watching the debate vs. hearing the debate vs. reading the debate can lead to different conclusions on certain answers.
Debate Video - from CNN, the full debate.
CBS Reality Check - Quick summary of mis-information from the debate on both sides.

CNN Poll - quick poll of those that watched the debate
Won debate: 51% Biden, 26% Palin
Likability: 54% Palin, 36% Biden
Exceed Expectations: 84% Palin, 64% (a sign of how little people expected)
Qualifications: 87% Biden, 42% Palin (not good for Palin but that can be built on, as long as doesn't talk to the press)

CBS Poll - poll of 473 uncommitted voters
Won debate: 46% Biden, 21% Palin, 33% Tie
Committ to ticket: 18% committed to Obama/Biden, 10% McCain/Palin, 71% remain uncommitted (this just proves my point, those already leaning in one direction got the excuse they needed for a decision they had already made)
Improved opinion of VP candidate: 53% Biden, 55% Palin (I figured Palin's numbers would be much higher considering expectations)
Worse opinion of VP candidate: 5% Biden, 14% (higher then want but not a big deal)
No change of opinion: 42% Biden, 30% Palin
More knowledgeable about issues - from 43% before to 66% after for Palin, from 79% to 98% after for Biden (Palin's credibility is still a huge sticking point)
Prepared for VP job: from 39% before to 55% after for Palin, from 81% before to 97% after for Biden (again credibility and issue for Palin)
Effective as President: from 35% before to 44% after for Palin, from 66% to 91% for Biden (ditto)

538.com - Excellent website that tracks polling across the country and uses statistically math to project the election based on current information.

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