The Eclectic Quill

October 3, 2008

Palin Walks While Chewing Gum, Declares Victory

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 9:37 am

Well the media is all abuzz today about the results of last night’s VP debate it seems that reality has taken a back seat to spin. Here at the Quill I’m going to take a step back and just consider the essentials of the debate and who did a better job on them. The purpose of the debates is not to perform against expectations or “cover the spread,” the purpose is to convince people to vote for your ticket. Just as with the debate on Friday night, if we look at that as our scorecard, there is no debate over who won last night’s debate. All we need to see to know who “won” is one simple statistic, in the CBS poll 18 percent of undecided voters decided to vote for Obama last night while only 10 percent were convinced to vote McCain. In an election where Obama already has a decisive advantage and is pulling away, there’s little controversy over who fared better.

Yet the pundits are talking about how wonderfully Palin performed, but was it really that great? Sure she did a passable job of proving that she can memorized a half dozen index cards and recite them, regardless of whether they answered the questions she asked or not, and that she can successfully use over-rehearsed attack lines. Yet, while these things might have convinced some people that she was “knowledgeable on the issues” it apparently didn’t do enough to convince them that voting for John McCain was a good idea. The big question he pundits aren’t asking but should be asking is what it was that voters saw in Biden but not in Palin that caused nearly twice as many of them to decide to vote for Obama instead of McCain. I believe that there are at least two major factors that went into this.

First, while this has been billed as style versus substance, I think it is more about style with substance over style without substance. If the voters had been asked how well the two candidates understood he issues and no just whether, there’d be a much bigger difference in the polls. Biden showed a familiarity and command of the issues that stood in vivid contrast with Palin’s crammed, index card memorization. While he was able to cogently react to Palin’s points, she often let him land heavy punches on John McCain without a single counter. Perhaps, in terms of convincing voters, the most powerful moment of the evening came when Biden, responding to a “maverick” line by Palin, recounted several points of how he had “yet to hear” how McCain was different from Bush on any major policy issue. This attack line effectively negated all of the “maverick” talk that came after that. Palin, given a perfect invitation to describe precisely how McCain was different failed to do so, and as such, conceded the point. I personally think the magnitude of that moment was enormous. On the substance issue, this was no contest, Biden won heavily. In fact the percent of people who thought that Biden was informed was a whopping 98 percent. That’s a number you just don’t see in politics.

Second, on style, Palin did start well, asking him in her effervescent way if she could call him Joe. She was bubbly and folksy. Biden on the other hand was gentlemanly, and he was self deprecating, laughing at himself a couple of times when Palin took shots at him. I did not see the “anger” that some saw. There were times when he showed conviction when talking about McCain’s and/or Bush’s failures, but I didn’t feel that there was personal anger directed at Palin in anyway. I do however feel that there were moments when Palin came across as snide, disrespectful and condescending. When she described Obama as naïve, she also made herself look silly. As I’ve said before this is like Verne Troyer talking trash about how he’s going to dunk on Shaquille O’Neil. There’s a pretty vivid difference between her and Obama on grasp of the issues…but I ramble. My point here is that while she did come across as folks and bubbly at times at other times she came across as mean and offensive. Her, “There you go again Joe,” comment, clearly intended to be a big winner with the audience and the Pundits afterwards, fell flat, and the CNN focus group lines dropped at their lowest for either candidate during the entire debate. I think this might be while even though 55 percent of voters said in the CBS poll that they thought their opinion of Palin improved, 14 percent that it got worse. The other factor here is that Biden might have had the most connecting point with viewers when he talked about his wife’s death and being a single father of two. Biden also improved his standing with 53 percent of voters, which is striking as he came in with a better image than Palin. Meanwhile only 5 percent said their view of Biden got worse. I think that on style Biden did at least well as Palin.

The net effect is that voters felt that Biden one the debate 2:1. But more important than who won the debate is who convinced voters to vote for their end of the ticket. In spite of many pundits saying that this was no game changer, I disagree. It’s going to have a measurable effect. If 18 percent of undecided voters decided to vote for Obama that’s a game changer for two reasons. First, that translates into another two percent of the vote for Obama nationwide, and he’s already at, over or very near 50 percent in most of the daily tracking polls. That 18 percent of voters who made up their minds last night means that now those tracking polls are going to be showing 50-52 percent for Obama. As we’re getting closer to the election that means that voters are going to be changing their mind less, barring any big news or October surprises. McCain is not now just in the business of having to convince the undecided voters to vote for him, he’s in the business of having to convince voters who have made up their minds to change their minds. That’s a pretty big difference, especially when you are a member of the party in power and no one likes that party right now, and especially when you’ve been in Washington for 26 years and you’re trying to run as an outsider. The other reason that’s a game changer is that last night over a quarter of undecided voters made up their mind. That means there’s a lot less undecided voters to compete over. That means that McCain, as well as having to change the minds of some decided voters has to virtually sweep the remaining 5 percent of voters who haven’t yet decided. That’s another big challenge, perhaps even impossible.

Finally there’s one other thing that no one is mentioning that bears consideration. Palin was neither huge nor disastrous last night. In a sense, unless the troopergate investigation ends badly for them, that means she’s not an issue in the campaign anymore, for better or worse. The focus is now back on McCain, who has been panicked, angry, indecisive and confused of late. In many ways, the attention on Palin last week was a plus for McCain, even though it was negative. That’s because it’s better to have a negative focus on the bottom of the ticket than at the top of it. Now that the focus is off of Palin, McCain has to pull it out, and his two big gambles so far hasn’t helped. The only thing he can try now is another huge gamble, and that could end very badly for him. Ironically, the opportunity he had for that, to lead a charge to vote against the bailout unless the pork is removed, passed him by. At this point I just don’t see what McCain can do to win this election and last night might not have been a crushing defeat by itself, but it might have been just enough to ensure that we won’t be up late on November 4th.

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12 Comments »

  1. Bottom line, all Palin did was spew talking points. And if I hear, “Well, up in ALASKA” one more time I’m gonna PUKE!

    Comment by nikolai — October 3, 2008 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  2. 1st let me say that i am loving this blog & intend to follow it!!

    2nd) as a woman i am HIGHLY insulted by PALIN & her cutesy crap last night. the talking DOWN to Main Street America was MORONIC at best! How dare she WINK & say “dog gon it joe”, “gosh darnit”, “bless the oil companie’s hearts they aren’t my biggest fans”

    IS that the kind of CUTE crap i want from a VP-NO.
    McCain added her to his ticket for one reason only, because she is a woman & i believe that’s a slap in the face. Why? because he felt that by adding her, he would get the female vote. Does he really believe we are that stupid? we cannot think on our own.

    the only thing she even sounded 1/2 way intelligent on was energy & she almost SPUN that to sound like, bring me in to office & i’ll send you oil from Alaska, GO BACK TO ALASKA PALIN (no offense to anyone at all, i am merely voicing my sole opinion).

    joe six pack & hockey mom???? remember when she said that?
    PUHLEASE….i’m as main street as anyone can get & i’ve been a republican since i was 18…..this year NO, i’m NOT voting my party. Not just because i feel they are “more of the same” but because McCain & Palin are NOT representative of the “real main street”. nor do i want some cutesy flippant “lady” in office winking at me & saying GOLLY GEE america i love ya

    PPPPPPPPFFFFFFTTTTTTTT

    thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion, because sure as hell no one else wants to hear it!
    can’t handle the truth ;0

    sincerely
    A FEMALE on Main Street America

    Comment by CK0712 — October 3, 2008 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  3. CKO712–

    Thanks for your comments, and might I add that any “chick” who has a football blog as astute as your’s is MORE than welcome to express their main street opining here!

    Comment by kelly — October 3, 2008 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  4. Kelly,

    LOL thank you , it is TRULY appreciated!! I LOVE your blogs i need more time to sit & read some more!!

    i just read that the pork barrel mccain added to the bail out, helped pass it……….1 CEO is walking away with 18 mill & 5 houses.
    WHY is that?
    HEY maybe Palin can wink at him some and he’ll help a hockey mom pay the mortgage.

    also were u aware that Palin had rape victims in alaska PAY FOR THEIR OWN RAPE kits & ER exams, because of state funding problems….

    again i stress to everyone, male/female/PLEASE get educated on the ticket & PULL THE LEVER on 11/4.

    BTW i almost WISH BIDEN’S TEMPER would have overcome him & he would have made her CRY. that’s how much i am STILL infuriated over her & her tactics last night.

    no doubt OBAMA/BIDEN on 11/4 !!

    sincerely,
    the football chick on main street in hershey PA

    Comment by CK0712 — October 3, 2008 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

  5. Kelly,

    I,too, found Palin offensive last night. I’m insulted that she thought cutesiness would win me over. She regularly failed to answer questions she was unprepared for or didn’t want to answer (What is your real Achilles heel?), instead babbling on about her qualifications or making references to McCain as if he were God. I was NOT impressed.

    Comment by ShakySpker — October 3, 2008 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  6. I think you’re right on backell about Palin.

    Although I’m typically a yellow dog Democrat, I believe that McCain’s experience and record are greater than Obama’s. I might disagree with McCain on issues, but as an Arkansas Democrat, I’ve heard about two men from “Hope” (Hope, Arkansas) Clinton and Huckabee. I truly believe that McCain only had hope and an everyday love for the U.S. in the Hanoi Hilton. He’s proven an unwaivering dedication with his life that I trust.

    But the selection of Palin is nothing short of perplexing. It’s inexplicable. My first reaction was, “Is Condelezza Rice not available? How about Colin Powell? Huckabee’s even more politically preferable to solidify the southern (SEC conference) block of states. I would have preferred Joe Lieberman.”

    I’m just a southern white man talking (who’s vote and opinion count whether “enlightened, prejudiced,” or not,) but of these four, McCain is first, Biden second, Obama third, and Palin is a distant fourth in terms of qualifications.

    It was scary to drive on a country road outside Conway, Arkansas, and drive past a fenced area. Beyond the fence is a mound of precisely angled concrete, flattened on the top, with lights on the top. Inside was a Titan II ICBM which was equipped, in all likelihood, with a 10 megaton nuclear warhead. It’s not a football field away. The only way to be more at Ground Zero is to stand in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    In Arkansas when I was young, by accident, a worker dropped a ratchet socket down a silo shaft. The socket bounced and pierced the rocket’s shell. The fuel ignited in an explosion that killed 3 workers. I watched on the news wondering whether this was it. News reporters at the scene learned enough from local authorities to know that the authorities were looking for a nuclear warhead. No one knew the condition of the detonator. I remember the warnings in the event of an explosion and weather persons talking about wind direction in the event of radioactivity. They found the warhead in a field some two hundred yards away and the cameras were sent back away for “safety.”

    A hockey mom may be a good orator, but God it tears me apart to think that a hockey mom is a heartbeat away from carrying the Football.

    I just don’t know. — SharpTusk

    Comment by SharpTusk — October 3, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  7. Tusk-

    I believe that whatever reasoning they use, Obama’s experience far exceeds Palin’s. It’s not just office experience, it’s education plus experience. Obama has a lot more knowledge.

    Still the difference between McCain and Obama was his greatest strength until he proved that he didn’t really think it was very important by choosing Palin. I think if McCain had chosen Pawlenty that would have helped his campaign a lot more.

    Additionally, Obama is dominating the women vote. I think a lot of men are like the “football chick” who were incensed by the notion they would vote for a veritable bimbo just because she was a woman. I know several women personally who were only vaguely interested in the campaigns before, and now are passionate Obama supporters.

    Comment by kelly — October 3, 2008 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  8. she wouldn’t answer many questions

    she thinks her Mary Tyler Moore act is enough

    hope she’s wrong

    Comment by 3rdStoneFromTheSun — October 3, 2008 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  9. HA, kelly summed her WHOLE persona up in her title of this blog ;0!!

    sorry for all the ranting kelly, but this whole “gig” has me very fired up!! the more i read on her, the more i get totally annoyed!

    i am a female in a male dominated profession & they have all agreed with me……..YOUR title fits!

    funny how some have an opinion & then slip in at the very end of an email . MY VOTE won’t make a difference……….or they send you email that is completely negative towards Obama. Guess i shut everyone up yesterday, because my above RANTS (lol) i emailed to all the ppl. that send me propaganda ;0 my email is devoid of SPAM against OBAMA this morning 🙂 !!!

    Comment by CK0712 — October 4, 2008 @ 6:24 am | Reply

  10. As a resident of state whose vote won’t matter(TN), I’m much more upset with the process than with the candidates. Until we go to a popular vote and not the electoral collge, fewer and fewer Americans will feel the need to vote.

    My comment on the candidates is this; with almost 400 million people in this great country, we can do better than these 4 ass-clowns. I am tired of voting for A because I don’t want B.

    Comment by cowboyjoe — October 5, 2008 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  11. by all means, the choice is yours. however, who said anyone was settling for A because they don’t like B ??

    I’m crossing party lines because i like Obama/Biden ticket more then i like McCain/Palin ticket. I’m sure put to a “popular” vote, Obama would by far win. but then again this isn’t a popularity contest, it’s our country being run properly that we are voting on.

    Comment by CK0712 — October 7, 2008 @ 6:22 am | Reply

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    Comment by Sugar Free Gum — January 31, 2009 @ 7:04 am | Reply


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