Saturday, October 02, 2004

Post-debate wrap up

I've read a good bit today about the debate and I find it interesting that most of the coverage seems to be about appearance and not policy (style over substance). I really wish it wasn't so. Policy-wise, Bush got taken to the House. It was very remeniscent of the 1992 elections when Clinton has a policy take (he called it something like a "vision for America") and Bush I really didn't have much but negative personal attacks. The election wasn't really that close and a lot of people say that Bush's failure to explain what he would do for the country was at a root the cause of his loss (especially since he had big explaining to do about the economy being in recession - explaining he couldn't or didn't do).

That being said, Zogby (yeah, the guy who does polls) has been arguing for quite some time that Kerry is going to win this election because of the exact same thing - he has an agenda, Bush doesn't. One of the interesting things, however, is that just before the debate, Zogby criticized the Kerry campaign for not energizing the democratic base by attacking the President on Iraq and the War on Terror. Well, I think the 60 million Americans that watched the debate can now see that JFK isn't exactly a pushover on the Iraq issue. Perceptually, it was extremely important that Kerry stood his ground on the issues and quipped back against the "you're a flip-flopper" by saying that it's better to make reasoned, principled decisions then be an arrogant ass that can't ever admit you made a mistake even as more troops are dying every day.

Another interesting thing about the polls after the debate is that, not surprisingly, Democrats overwhelmingly said that Kerry won, Republicans said Bush won, but over 58% of "undecideds" said that Kerry won (that's a 20 point margin). That's good news to the Kerry people. According to Zogby, if Kerry mobilizes his base (and they come out to vote in droves), then all he has to do is demonstrate that he's no pushover and he's a sure winner. I'm not 100% sold on that yet, partly because I'm anticipating an "October Suprise" from the Bush administration that could shake things up at the end of the race.

BUT, it does seem VERY likely, that at this point, Kerry is going to be the next president. Bush looked annoyed, tired, combatative, and at times, just clueless. I really wonder if the Bush camp thought the whole debate would be about Iraq and the War on Terror. Because it's hard to believe that they just goofed on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. But hey, at least he was certain.


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