McCain Falls Further Behind As Goes Negative

It doesn’t look like going even more negative has helped John McCain. Today’s three day Gallup tracking poll shows Obama with an eleven point lead–his largest of the campaign. This does not take into account last night’s debate. At this point I’m undecided over whether Obama’s tremendous victory in the debate will lead to an ever greater lead or if he is reaching the maximum difference between the two parties without room to go much higher.

While going negative hasn’t helped McCain, and it certainly did not help Hillary Clinton, John McCain is apparently out of other ideas. McCain’s current ad buy is 100% negative, compared to about one-third of the ads for Obama. Ads such as this help to negate the attempts by McCain and Palin to make Obama appear to be too scary to vote for.

Obama Ad on Health Care


Barack Obama has been running more health care ads, including the one above. It is simple but I do like the way he framed the issue. The first time I saw it I thought it might be a pro-McCain ad because it starts out talking about “Government-Run Health Care, Higher Taxes.” This is exactly how McCain would mischaracterize Obama’s position. Next it shows the other extreme, ” Insurance Companies, Without Rules, Denying Coverage.” This would come closer to McCain’s position. The ad then shows Obama’s position as being between the two extremes, placing the plan in the middle.

While a thirty second spot such as this is not able to provide very much information, showing Obama’s plan as in the middle, and distinct from the way McCain describes it, is an important message to get out.

Update: The script of the commercial follows

On health care reform…two extremes.

On one end, government run health care, higher taxes.

On the other, insurance companies without rules denying coverage.

Barack Obama says both extremes are wrong.

His plan:

Keep your employer-paid coverage.

Keep your own doctor.

Take on insurance companies…to bring down costs.

Cover pre-existing conditions, and preventive care.

Common sense for the change we need.

Barack Obama disclaimer.

Obama Wins Big In Second Presidential Debate

I totally agree with Taegan Goddard’s impression of the second presidential debate: “Tonight’s debate wasn’t even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it,” “In contrast, Sen. John McCain was extremely erratic,” and “Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator.” The polls also showed a majority agreed with Obama being the winner.

CNN found that Obama won 54% to to 30%. In a question of who could best handle the economy, Obama won 59% to 37%.  On the question of who would be the stronger leader, Obama won 54% to 43%. On likability Obama won 65% to 28%. CBS News‘ poll of uncommitted voters found 39% thought Obama won while 27% thought McCain won.

John McCain attempted without success to make points by throwing out a new plan:

As president of the United States, Alan, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes — at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those — be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.

A debate is not the time to announce the vague outlines of a new policy. If he was serious about this he would have provided the plan in greater detail at a better time to review it than during a debate. One of McCain’s favorite phrases after “my friends” is “I know how to…” In saying this McCain reminds me of Richard Nixon who campaigned on a secret plan to win the Vietnam war in 1968. McCain won’t convince anyone that he really knows how to fix our problems unless he comes up with more than a single idea like this.

Both candidates were asked to prioritize three major issues: “Health policies, energy policies, and entitlement reform, what are going to be your priorities in what order?” McCain avoided answering the question, saying he could do all three. This wasn’t very convincing coming from the guy who showed he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time when he suspended his campaign and called for canceling the first debate. Obama better connected with viewers when he prefaced a real answer by saying, “We’re going to have to prioritize, just like a family has to prioritize.”

McCain repeated the same lies he has repeatedly been saying about Obama’s tax plans. In a debate where Brokaw brought up the rules far too many times, he did a horrible job in moderating by not allowing Obama to respond right then and there to lies over such a crucial matter as taxation.

McCain didn’t learn from the first debate when he was criticized for failing to look directly at Obama. This time he came off far worse the most discussed aspect of the debate, when he referred to Obama as “that one.”


Early in the debate McCain looked ridiculous by arguing about overhead projectors, and he looked even more ridiculous by bringing up hair transplants during the discussion of health care. McCain characterized health care as a responsibility while Obama characterized it as a right. McCain seems to have forgotten that he was running against Barack Obama and not Hillary Clinton when he raised mandates. McCain tried to spin this to make it appear Obama was creating hardships for families who would be required to provide health care for their children. He ignored the fact that Obama’s requirement for coverage of children is accompanied by assistance to enable parents to afford it. McCain’s argument was further undermined by Obama bringing up McCain’s vote against the CHIP program.

John McCain’s most serious tactical error in the debate was to repeat the same line as in the first without anticipating that Obama would be ready. McCain said Obama “does not understand our national security challenges” and that “We don’t have time for on-the-job training, my friends.”

Mentioning on-the-job training sounded strange coming from the candidate who chose Sarah Palin to be vice president. Obama had an obviously prepared response to McCain’s claim that he does not understand national security:

Well, you know, Sen. McCain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that I don’t understand. It’s true. There are some things I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us.

That was Sen. McCain’s judgment and it was the wrong judgment.

When Sen. McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we’d be greeted as liberators.

That was the wrong judgment, and it’s been costly to us.

The same theme came up again when McCain distorted Obama’s position on Pakistan and tried to compare himself to Teddy Roosevelt.

Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears and, you know, I’m just spouting off, and he’s somber and responsible…

Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don’t think is an example of “speaking softly.”

This is the person who, after we had — we hadn’t even finished Afghanistan, where he said, “Next up, Baghdad.”

It backfired for McCain to bring up Teddy Roosevelt. It was even more foolish for McCain to try to compare Obama to Herbert Hoover when viewers would clearly see Bush/McCain as the modern day Hoover and Obama as FDR. At least McCain has given up on comparing Obama to William Jennings Bryan as he did in June.  It never works well for McCain to raise these comparisons to the past as it only reminds voters that he is a candidate of the twentieth (nineteenth?) century while Obama is the candidate of the twenty-first century.

The debate was a total victory for Obama. Not only did he win on the issues, he came off as looking more presidential, more capable of leading in a crisis, and even more likable. McCain needed a game changer. Instead he dug himself further into a hole.