Does McCain Know What He Did?

As a legitimate contender for the Presidency of the United States there are really only two things that you need to avoid; (a) don't do anything stupid (see Dukakis) , and (b) don't get worked in the debates. McCain managed to defy the two cardinal rules of presidential campaigns in a single idiotic swoop. He suspended his campaign and called for the first debate this Friday to be postponed. The Commission on Presidential Debates already denied his request.

John McCain's already failed attempt to transcend politics will ultimately seal his fate as the typical politician which he so greatly seeks to overcome. John didn't even beat Barack to the "above politics" message. Obama contacted the McCain campaign earlier in the day regarding the potential of a joint message targeting the need for an economic remedy. The McCain campaign cooperated, before dropping their bombshell.

This latest gimmick is squarely aimed at perception voters; those voters who do not think, but rather feel who is the better candidate. There are plenty of these voters out there, but they are not a pivotal demographic. Anybody who falls for this ploy clearly would have voted for McCain anyway. There is no logical way to perceive McCain's actions today as strength or any other positive attribute. The McCain campaign mortgaged their future to secure a voting bloc they had already secured.

The Presidential Debates are a sacred endeavor, journeyed upon just once every four years. The campaign, for many people starts the day of the first debate. These late bloomers span all demographic sets. On a good night a candidate will introduce themselves to these voters just tuning in. Obama already appears to have the upper hand, he will actually prepare for the debates. The problem for John McCain remains in his expectations. How will these first time viewers perceive his lack of preparation for the debate? Will they even care that he was spending his time on the bailout, will they even know? My guess is that many people who are just tuning in will be largely unaware of this current storyline come Friday, but even if they are, I don't inherently think McCain's stunt shifts the scales in his direction. Recent polls have shown between an 8-12% lead for Obama on the issue of handling the economy; McCain is simply trying to keep pace on the issue, although with great difficulty.

A new SurveyUSA Poll taken today in response to McCain's antics show that just 10% of all respondents think the debate should be postponed. Either McCain is viciously targeting those 10% or he made the biggest blunder in presidential election history and has yet to realize it. While on the polling front I'll target the "nothing has changed in the past 48 hours but polling" meme. McCain's numbers actually increased in our model from two days ago. On the 22nd McCain was trailing 302-236, today he moved into a 269-269 tie. The polls actually contribute to the "McCain should not have done this" arguement because they actually swung in McCain's direction. As of right now there is no substantive argument to support McCain's decision to suspend his campaign.

For weeks I've contended that the first debate will polarize support for each candidate; independents will pick a side and stay there. Too much is at stake in the first debate to pull such an extraordinary political stunt, it's unprecedented. But I guess if you think your back's to the wall, you change your strategy; and based on today's strategy change, they must be right up against the wall.

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5 Response(s) to Does McCain Know What He Did?

1
TJR
9/25/2008 9:57:40 AM CT

Why is it that the Rethuglicans never think the rules apply to them? Since when is it an option to "no show" a presidential debate? McSame and Caribou Barbie cannot avoid the press forever. A debate will surely showcase how out of touch and uninformed both candidates really are. They both know this, and that's why they are trying to skate out of these debates. I find it very interesting to hear that those in Washington don't understand McSame's sudden need to appear to "save the economy". They aren't sure what he is going to do to help. It's a typical grandstanding trick. Those of us who are "thinking Americans" see through his desparate attempts to gain attention. He's been in the Senate for a long time, and hasn't saved the economy yet. What makes him think he can do it this week? The obvious answer is that he can't--and couldn't do it even if he had another 26 years! He's clueless. The debate should take place because the sooner it's shown what a fool he is, and how terrible a president he'd make, the better. I think that he'd be even worse than Bush--hard to imagine, I know.
2
Anonymous
9/25/2008 5:13:40 PM CT

If I was McCaine, a member of the Keating 5, I would cancel all debate until November 5th.
All it takes is one question about his role in the S & L scandal to end any hope of his winning or even making a showing in the polls.
3
montana
9/25/2008 5:15:53 PM CT

I so agree! I've also read that McCain 2000 was to the left of Bush but McCain 2008 is to the right of Bush. Because he seems to be flailing around the far right (remember the preachers he chose to seek endorsements from) McCain may make us wish we still had Bush in the WH if, God forbid, he is elected. Also a comment that keeps surfacing in connection to McCain is "Bush on steroids". We all know that wouldn't be a good thing.

Politics is like driving, to go backward put it in R, to go forward put it in D.
4
Anonymous
9/25/2008 11:31:49 PM CT

Makes me wonder how desperate McCain will be and to what lengths he will go come October! I never thought we could have anyone in the White House worse than Bush/Cheney. I was wrong. There names are McCain/Palin!!
5
yui
9/30/2008 9:14:14 PM CT

He was soooo angry and old looking in the debate,wouldn't even look a obama.

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