Going To The Candidates Debate
Laugh about it, shout about it when you've got to choose. John McCain didn't start chewing his microphone, exhibit obvious signs of Alzheimer's or remove his clothes to show the scars of his formative captivity. Those possibilities were in good part why we tuned in to Friday night's debate, but we're dealing with the disappointment.
There was a new real-time "audience reaction" graph for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents which crawled across the bottom of the screen, so we got to see the instant-gratification reaction of focus groups to what Obama and McCain said. Focus group members were given a dial to twist up or down depending on how they felt. In general, attacking the opponent was met with their disapproval, although Obama's highest twist came when recalling McCain's mistaken early support for the war in Iraq.
In a Fox News focus group of independents evenly split amongst Bush-Kerry voters in 2004, they gave the debate to Obama 61-39. They also think Obama won every individual segment. In the partisan focus groups, Republicans gave the debate to McCain 90-10, Democrats to Obama 93-7. You could see how ragged and indecisive the graph line was for the Independents was at many points, versus the steady sine waves of the declared. Obama gained ground, sure, but McCain won points for showing up and appearing coherent after saying he wasn't going because the fate of the country is too important, and made a case for being our bipartisan shibboleth.