Saturday, October 09, 2004

Longer Presidential Debate II

by Tom Bozzo

The mass media response may be that because George W. Bush didn't (for the most part) comport himself as poorly as he did in the first debate, and Kerry didn't somehow annihilate Bush over the employment situation or the lack of WMD in Iraq -- neither of which, it's abundandly clear, could ever get bad enough for the administration to admit error -- it's somehow a "win" for the President. Without cable TV, my media sample is limited, of course; I only saw PBS. David Brooks said what he had to (much as he did after the VP debate). I was at least pleased to see that Mark Shields wasn't buying.

The more theatrical moments still broke against Bush. He was reduced again to peevish 'of course I understand that up is down' lines in the Iraq session. I was surprised Kerry didn't nail him harder on the latest post-Duelfer rationalizations for the war, but it may be best to let the Bush-Cheney relationship with reality bounce around in the media over the weekend. If it's not obvious to a sufficient plurality of the voting public to yield 271 electoral votes that abuse of the oil-for-food scandal (obviously carefully rephrased as "undermining sanctions" in the President's debate prep) doesn't pass the laugh test for the thousands of lives lost and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, we're moving to Canada.

I had to resist spitting out my drink at Bush's Dred Scott response to the SCOTUS appointment question (see also Jeremy Freese for a similar reaction, though it seemed to have less of a visible effect on one cross-town Bush-fancying constitutional-law-prof-blogger than one would hope). Kerry nailed his rebuttal on that one. Bush's failure to muster so much as a good Catholic confession to the "list three mistakes" question was a huge mistake. I imagine he won't be getting those two votes.

Kerry's "I have a plan" closing got repetitive, but he has a plan, which is more than can be said for the other guy. I thought the bit about his involvement with actually balancing the budget in the Clinton years was a useful rejoinder to the usual tax-and-spend-liberal attack, which seems certain to be repeated by Bush ad nauseam in the third debate.

The bottom line is that Kerry didn't make any substantive mistakes, and Bush was still describing events in a parallel universe.

I give two thumbs down, maybe way down, to Gallup for its 'undecided' voter identification. The adult-vs.-embryonic stem cell question repeated inane GOP talking points, and if the probability that the abortion-is-murder woman would have voted for Kerry is bounded away from zero, I'd suspect it's not by much. Bush did have the clearer position on abortion, FWIW.

Good news is that the post-debate polling appears to be favorable to Kerry. Also, the TradeSports electronic market shows a sizeable swing towards Kerry for the winner-take-all election contract. (Update: the Saturday morning bid-ask spread is 56.0-58.6, see this previous post for discussion of the magnitude of the swing since the debates started.)
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