Friday, October 08, 2004

Debate II Analysis

Ok, I decided to post my political $0.02 before reading the pundits or my blogroll. Normally, I'd immediately click over to three blogs to engage in discussion.

Absit Invidia
Aces Full of Links
Unbecoming Levity

Tonight, I've decided to be a pundit. Then I'll go elsewhere to be told what to think. :)

So, who won? The polls show this as a Kerry victory by aplits ranging from 60-35% to 75-20%. This is one of the reasons I discourage people from looking at polls. The problem is that there is not enough nuance in a yes-or-no question to accurately reflect the outcome. Including degrees of victory would probably help, but again, would not be perfect. It doesn't take into account the bias in the polling approach. At any rate, we aren't going to get into a debate about polls again.

I'd call this debate a slight Kerry victory. Both candidates stayed pretty close to their message and both did their best to avoid answering many of the questions. A smart woman I know thinks that this strategy is intentional and is designed to repress voter turnout. She heard a report that suggested that there really aren't that many undecided voters so the strategies have shifted from trying to court voters to trying to discourage the opponents marginal voters from showing. She may have a point.

Why do I call it a Kerry victory then? Simple. Kerry did a good job clearing some misconceptions about him. I think he has more or less laid the flip=flopper lavel to rest. He managed on a couple of occasions to show what people mean when they talk about nuance. And he called the President on his empty labels and fear-mongering. The President didn't make any major flubs. He just didn't have any answers for Kerry's punches. All he could offer was "more of same". That's not going to sway anybody not in his camp.

The problem as I see it is Bush's whole campaign centers around Kerry being unfit to command. Kerry's whole campaign centers around being better than Bush. There are concrete differences between their policies, but they are often glossed over in favor of rhetoric. Most of Kerry's answers started similar to "This President did it wrong." Continued with examples. And ended with "I can do it better." President Bush's answers also had a formula. "We're doing a great job." Examples of why he feels that way. "You can't trust Senator Kerry to do that."