Don’t Count the Turtle Out of the Race, Yet
As Anthony pointed out at the tail-end of our debate blog, a new Zogby poll shows Obama’s margin shrinking. Of particular note is that his lead went entirely into the “Others/Not sure” column. That’s why I’m not buying the spin that McCain had to do very well last night (even though the poll was conducted before the debate).
In all political races, and to an exponential degree with Obama, the storyline is the thing. Obama’s storyline is the lightning flash of The New, and in these debates, he sounds like nothing so much as a run-of-the-mill candidate. His negativity and egregious anti-Bush partisanship won’t help.
John McCain, on the other hand, is the steady hand (albeit connected with an often wrongheaded mind). Nobody expects him to do well in these debates. His image is entirely consistent with a bit of awkwardness at the nuts and bolts of campaigning.
Put slightly differently, if the broadest mood of the electorate is fatigue with Washington, smooth campaigning could prove to be a detriment during the general election’s slide toward the middle.