The latest CBS News poll of undecided voters finds that by a 53%-22% margin, they thought Obama won the debate. Twenty four percent thought that the debate was a draw. The CNN poll of voters watching the debate thought Obama won the debate 58%-31%. This means that according to the polls, Barack Obama swept the debates.
Obama dominated the health care issue in the CBS poll, as 69% of voters thought Obama would make the right decisions on health care. Only 30% felt the same way about John McCain. Obama out polled McCain 63%-56% when asked which candidate shared their values. The big problem for McCain is that even when his numbers increased in the CBS poll, so did Obama’s. In the eyes of voters, McCain can’t seem to catch Obama.
The most telling results so far have come from the CNN poll. I think that McCain has three problems. First, he doesn’t seem to share the views of voters. Second. He has not looked like a strong leader in any of these debates, and third, McCain isn’t likable. On the issue of which candidate shared their views, Obama won 66%-25%. Obama was viewed as the stronger leader by a margin of 56%-39%. On the question of who was more likable, Obama won 70%-22%.
Obama was viewed as the better candidate to handle the economy, 55%-39%. Critically, Obama won with Independents by a margin of 57%-31%. The bad news for McCain is that these numbers look just like the numbers after the first two debates. What that says to me is that it doesn’t matter what McCain does in these debates, the voters don’t like his style and tone, and they don’t trust him on the economy.
McCain has been unsuccessful in his quest to raise question about Obama. In fact, his character attacks have backfired, and made Obama’s responses look even more presidential. My best guess is that the dye has been cast, and voters have made their minds up about McCain. The lack of movement in these polls from debate to debate tells me that the electorate is not fluid, that this race has settled into Obama being in control. I think that McCain can’t win this race, but Obama can still do something to lose it, if he isn’t careful.