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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Monday, November 03, 2008

Where the race changed - It's not the economy, stupid.

To me, it wasn't the economic meltdown that cost McCain, although that did serve to change the focus on the candidates to a much more serious tone.

To me, McCain gave the race away in the two weeks of the debates. His response to the bailout bill ("the suspension") looked chaotic and panicked. The debates served to make Obama look more stable, more reasoned, and more in touch. And, it was also during those two weeks that Sarah Palin really blew up, reinforcing questions about McCain's judgment.

That two week period made McCain seem "erratic" at the very time that Americans were suddenly craving stability and seriousness. It was during that period that the polls opened up, and they've never really moved back since then.


  • To me, McCain gave the race away in the two weeks of the debates.

    I think McCain blew it when he squandered the month or so between the end of Republican primaries and the Obama's acceptance speech. No registration drives. No field office activity. No message to moderate/independents beyond "POW".

    He never really rallied his Party until the Palin pick, and he essentially ran a primary campaign long after Obama was crowned the nominee. With such a feeble ground game, he was completely unable to capitalise on his strong moments (the Palin pick and the Convention). Instead, everything was left to the media and the air war.

    Running a close second for horrible mistakes was his War With The Media. By demanding "deference" from the media for Palin, he placed journalists in the position of having to publicly admit their submission, whereas they had given it freely before. Cutting off access to "punish" the media, while having no ground game in place to carry his message and low funds, completely worked against him.

    Both of these things made it impossible to spin his position on the Lehmann Leap, and guaranteed that his "suspension" would be viewed as a joke. It became acceptable to ridicule McCain without "questioning his service", and it was all over after that.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 8:43 AM  

  • I think that's a very valid argument as well.

    (Although, if you remember, they did have a crazy plan for 12 (?) semi-independent regional campaign managers for a ground game that was the first thing destroyed when Steve Schmidt came in.)

    I've also been toying around with the idea that he was fatally flawed from the beginning, not having the base, and likely to lose independents in this "change" year.

    And I think the place where the "war with the media" really hurt him was the pre-convention period where the media was openly saying he was "lying." They didn't have any goodwill left at that point to soften that.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:23 AM  

  • Also he was supposed to be able to ramp up his campaign long before the convention because of the 'seeming' chaos between HRC and BO during the caucus/primary season.

    He was annointed the GOP pick and it was still a toss up for the Dems. JMcC squandered months.

    By Blogger matt, at 12:23 PM  

  • Agreed.

    Also, he didn't really do a ton of fundraising during that period.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 1:12 PM  

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