This was John McCain’s debate to win or lose. He did not win it.
Considering the political climate, John McCain had to do extremely well, and Barack Obama had to falter. Neither happened. Obama won the debate just on this issue alone.
If you consider the behavior, trust, believability and impact of the candidates, which is the purpose of this blog – here are some thoughts:
- There was no electricity. Here we are in one of the most difficult economic climates in decades, or perhaps since the depression.Tomorrow, or the next day, ask your friend or associate about a specific issue – they will be hard pressed to name a specific stance of one candidate or the other.
- McCain did not bring up anything about Obama’s character, which was the emphasis of the McCain campaign attack in the days preceding the debate. This issue will now disappear. So will McCain’s chances.
- Obama was comfortable. There was much talk about the Town Hall being the medium for John McCain. They were both good in relating to the audience, eye contact and movement, but there was no big distinction. Obama wins by beating the expectation.
- KEY POINT: Nothing to do with Obama and McCain, but with the audience meter. If anyone was channel surfing, as I was, they would end up with CNN and the audience meter. How do the independents FEEL about the answers. In a dynamic debate, we would watch the participants for body language and expressions. This was not a dynamic debate, (see below), and became more of the same – a political debate rather than an arresting discussion of opposing ideas in time of great turmoil. So to maintain interest it was INTERESTING to watch what objective observers felt.
- FASCINATING: From the Audience Meter – at all times with both candidates, when they turned negative, the audience turned negative. They did not like it. When they applauded themselves, people did not like it. And when there were a lot of LBOW’s (Lovely Bunch Of Words that sound fine but don’t mean much) they also turned negative. There were many more negatives for McCain than Obama.
- Slightly interesting: They are both left handed – we watch them making notes. Both looked benign in the cutaways as they were listening.
- John McCain never hit his stride. He used “My friends” more than a dozen times – it becomes a cliche and a formality. That phrase does not connect, and McCain did not connect. He did move, he did look at people, and he did try to use a couple of instances of humor, but with no impact.
- Barack Obama was comfortable. He also moved, looked at people, and was articulate. He did not connect at the emotional level, but he really didn’t have to in this debate. All he had to do was get by – he’s the front runner. He did more than that.
- The Likability Factor: A poll taken at the end of the debate judged likability – the most important criteria based on past campaigns (and noted in my book “You’ve Got To Be Believed To Be Heard”)
The result on Likability:
Obama 65% and McCain 28%. Not much more to say.