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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Plumber live on CBS with Katie Couric. Text here.

CNN Poll is in: 58-31.

Hillary keeps calling him "President Obama." I guess she thinks it's over?

Joe the Plumber still undecided. Tough news for McCain, who was working overtime tonight for the guy's vote.

CBS: Obama dominates.

53% said Obama won; 22% said John McCain won.
Look for the media spin to shift immediately as a result, as it has in the wake of the last three debates.

Hillary on CNN.

Steve Benen agrees with me that this was a very bad night for McCain.
In a more general sense, if tonight was McCain's big "last chance" for a game-changing performance, it was a missed opportunity. Opinions will no doubt vary widely, but I thought this was the worst of McCain's three debate performances. On the substance, McCain had nothing new to offer. On his demeanor, McCain seemed angry and dismissive (did anyone count how many eye-rolls we saw?). On rhetoric, he was clumsy and repetitious.

What's more, McCain positioned himself as a far-right Republican at precisely the time Americans want to move away from far-right Republicans. How did McCain present himself to Americans? As an anti-abortion, pro-voucher conservative who wants to slash federal spending and talk about how mean television ads and t-shirts hurt his feelings.

Obama has cornered the market on stature, temperament, and control. Where McCain was nasty, Obama was unflappable. Where McCain was angry, Obama was confident. On the substance, Obama was on message, and just as importantly, made personal connections on the issues he cared about.

I also noticed that Obama seemed to go out of his way to appeal to centrists and independents. While McCain reached out to his base on abortion and vouchers, Obama sought out middle ground on practically every issue.

In the first debate, it seemed to me that Obama won on points. In the second, Obama won by taking control. Tonight, Obama practically won by default -- McCain had an off night when he needed a big win. Watching the two, it seemed to me that Obama is ready to lead, and just out-classed his over-matched rival.
Obama wins focus groups on CNN and Fox. No polls yet.

Ambinder, who repeats the nonsense claim that McCain might have won on points, goes on to say points don't matter.
And tonight, we saw a McXplosion. Every single attack that Sen. McCain has ever wanted to make, he took the opportunity tonight to make. Around 30 minutes in, McCain seemed to surrender the debate to his frustrations, making it seem as if he just wanted the free television.

His substance suffered; it didn't make sense at times. He seemed personally offended by negative ads; he tried to make a point about Obama's character, but all the sleight were those Obama allegedly inflicted on Obama: the town halls, campaign finance, negative ads, etc. He allowed himself to get caught up in his own grievances. It was just plain unattractive on television. He moved quickly from William Ayers to taxes without a transition. From Obama's opposition to trade agreements to taxes. No intermediate steps. Blizzards of words without unifying strings.

The partisans want their candidates to say things that will make the self-same partisans feel good. So when McCain gets angry, lots of Republicans say: "Right on ya! " as if persuadable voters are looking at the world through McCain's eyes and harboring the same grudges and feeling offended by the same.
CNN's about to have Hillary on. That should be brutal.

CNN has 57 people on screen at once. What the hell?

Rachel Maddow is absolutely on fire tonight.

Here's the abortion exchange from Debate Hub. Very, very bad flub by McCain.

Rachel's response was awesome -- McCain's enthusiasm for the debate faded about halfway through, turning angry and sputtering. Points to what will surely be the moment of the night: the ridicule of the "health of the mother."

Post-debate thread. Obama won in a huge way from where I'm sitting -- can't wait to see the CNN and CBS polls.