Well, two presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate down, one more presidential debate to go. It has been a busy past week in politics for me here in good ol’ St. Louis, MO. Last Thursday, we were the site of the highly-watched and scrutinized Biden-Palin debate. It was held right down the street from my house at Washington University. There is no need to go over the specifics of the debate now as it has been dissected over and over the past few days. Needless to say, Palin didn’t throw up or cry on stage, and Biden didn’t let any f-bombs slip through, so both candidates were able to claim victory.
Both Palin and Biden made their rounds in the 24 hour period surrounding the debate time here in St. Louis. Mostly just stump stops where they pitched their big talking points. Sadly, I missed Biden due to work and missed Palin out of choice. Even though it was last week, I guess I should give my thoughts on the debate as it did happen in my city. Overall, I think Palin was more interested in getting her sunny, folksy personality across than actually answering questions. She was definitely coached up for the debate, and it was obvious they told her to stick to a script of talking points and generalities. Do everything possible to make people find you as likeable and down to earth and try your best to make them forget that you are an inexperienced idiot.
Biden, on the other hand, wanted to make sure that he didn’t come across as too mean or aggressive towards Palin, and did his best not to attack her directly but to instead discuss the policies of the McCain/Palin campaign. He was also able to get across his charm and made sure to be ‘down to earth’ and connect with good ol’ Joe Six Pack when discussing his family and the tragedy he has endured. Also, he was actually able to answer questions that were asked of him, instead of staying to a tight script. I know we’ve all been so hard on poor Governor Palin, but if you are getting smoked in interviews by Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson (of all people), perhaps you shouldn’t be a VP candidate. Just a thought.
On Tuesday, I went to a local pub here, The Royale, to watch the debate as they were throwing a watch party. Of course, it was a typical pinko-commie, Lenin-worshipping, liberal gathering, where they served vegetarian dishes and uber-microbrew organic beer. Being that it was a bunch of Democrats watching the debate, there were a lot of cheers for Obama and a lot of groans and boos for McCain. Most of the McCain groans came at the very end when he pandered to the naval chief that asked the question, saying he learned everything he ever needed to know from his chief petty officer when he was in the Navy, and then gave him an enthusiastic pat on the back. I admit, I was one of the ones groaning as well.
The town hall format was supposed to be the best environment for McCain during these three debates, and he did come off better than he did in the first one. However, Obama was able to show that he can deal with questions from the audience and just looked very relaxed. McCain at times came across as forced, especially when he tried to laugh or throw a ‘zinger’ at Obama. Obama was also, for the most part, able to stick to the question that was asked, while McCain would try to make the question into something he wanted to answer. However, in the end, neither candidate helped or hurt themselves anymore than when they entered that auditorium. Most candidates will tell you that is really all you can hope for, that you don’t say or do something memorably bad.
One thing that has occurred here in Missouri in the past couple of weeks is that Obama has now made this state ‘up for grabs’. The latest polls show that Obama is in either a virtual tie or even in the lead here in Missouri. Opinion Research released a poll at the end of September that has Obama with a one point lead over McCain when it comes to likely voters. When you factor in registered voters that lead widens to 4-5 points (difference is based on Nader and Barr being counted in the poll.) The poll released by Rasmussen Reports has Obama at 50% and McCain at 47% and that poll was conducted on 10/5. One other poll, American Research Group, has McCain ahead of Obama by 3 points. All 3 polls have a margin of error of 3-4%, so thus we can see that it is a very close race in Missouri, which is a state that Bush took handily in 2004. With the polls around the country showing Obama in the lead, we will really get to see how much of a factor race will play on Election Day.