Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So Michelle Obama is undecided?

How is it that Michelle Obama was seated among the undecided voters at the presidential debate at Belmont this evening? She should not have been there--whether she's undecided or not.

I do know one of the woman that was among the undecideds. I'm looking forward to hearing her take on the experience.

Tom Brokow was a lousy time keeper and moderator. I nearly gave up when Brokow announced that he got to pick the questions. The liberals were upset that Brokow interrupted Obama but they failed to realize that he regularly went overtime and should have been interrupted more than a minute earlier. Why wasn't a buzzer employed so we all know who went over when? And Obama was allowed to rebut several times despite the rules. Apparently, the rules don't apply to him.

I'm disappointed Sen. John McCain didn't hit Obama harder. A lot harder.

I don't know where Obama is buying gasoline in Nashville but it's about 30 cents lower than the $3.8+- he stated.

McCain answered correctly, health insurance is a responsibility not a right as Obama answered. More correctly, paying your medical bills is a responsibility. If you don't need insurance to do that, great.

McCain's point that our soldiers are in nuclear powered tin cans and that there are plenty of European nations living on nuclear power was a great point. ALL of the above and drill here, drill now have got to be the plan.

I loved the exchange between the former Marine CPO (they aren't really ever former are they) and McCain. He does seem to be more personable in his exchanges with questioners. I loved his direct answer to the CPO about coming to the aid of Israel if attacked by Iran. McCain is right, the UN Security Council isn't a friend of Israel and it would not be in the best interests of the US to wait around for them to give permission to aid Israel.

McCain's response regarding Russia was exactly right and it was a clear demonstration of his previous statement that you don't let the enemy know what your game plan is. And to deliver the response while half sitting on the stool with his feet stretched out before him with a sly smile came across to me as very self-assured on that issue. While Obama was reciting former Soviet Satellite nations like Estonia, McCain honed in on the oil pipeline ones like Georgia. He knows what Putin wants. I'll bet Putin knows that McCain knows what Putin wants and Putin would rather have to deal with Obama.


The Black Snob said...

Just to let you know: Several politicians and Cindy McCain sat in the audience with the "undecideds," including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) (who sat next to Michelle) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R). Cindy sat in a row with her daughter Meghan and Graham, as well as other undecideds. So there was no gamesmanship afoot. The camera only panned to Michelle because Barack mentioned her in a question he was answering.

N.S. Allen said...

Overall: I spent half of this debate looking at the TV and half of it listening while working on homework. My sense, on the whole, was that it was unforgivably boring and generally a non-factor. I’ve heard some people say that, in terms of body language, Obama made a much better impression, which makes sense to me, though it’s no fault of McCain’s – Obama’s just younger, taller, and, frankly, better looking.

On Michelle: The commenter above has already pointed out that there were people of both stripes, as well as both wives, in the audience, in addition to undecideds. If there’s some additional reason why Michelle Obama shouldn’t attend a presidential debate when her husband is running for president, I don’t know what that would be.

On the mod and the rules: I’d agree that Brokaw bit big time, though the fact of the matter is that both campaigns did a terrible job of setting up the debate’s rules. For instance, one minute of discussion, after both have made their points? Do we really think that, even if there was some major issue so simple that a coherent point on it could be made in a minute, two senators could manage to stay within that timeframe?

It’s dishonest to simply say that Obama went overtime often. He did, just like McCain did, and, frankly, I thought better of both of them for it. In reality, both of them should have challenged the rules from the get-go and insisted on time to rebut or at least to actually cover the ground they were bringing up. They should find whoever agreed to those rules, now that it’s over, and demote them to coffee-fetching. It does all of America, as well as both campaigns, a disservice when both sides are allowed to come out, throw out talking points, and then not have anyone respond. That isn’t a debate in any sense of the term.

On health insurance: I don’t get it. I understand that, in a purely legal sense, if you end up getting a bill for medical services you received, you are legally obligated to pay it, whether you have health insurance or not. But, to a certain extent, “responsibility” seems to suggest something that one actually has the power to fulfill or that one, at least, takes willingly onto oneself. No one could reasonably hold me responsible for not single-handedly curing cancer, for instance – I’m not a scientist doing research in that field, and I’ve never claimed to be able to. Likewise, with health care – no one chooses to need medical care beyond their means, and the people who can’t cover their own bills don’t decide to be bankrupted by them, rather than pay. They simply don’t have the money.

If it is, as McCain says, a “responsibility,” it’s one that it’s irrational to expect the vast majority of the uninsured to fulfill. Personally, I think the whole “privilege, right, responsibility” question was a case of dumb, debate oversimplification, but Obama hit it closer to the head – it hurts our nation as a whole when there are people out there who are being crushed by medical bills due to lack of insurance. If we were the ones watching our relatives haggle with insurance agents while they were on their deathbed, we would be enraged.

As such, being able to afford good, solid coverage should be a right. To have access to health care be anything short of universal is simply unconscionable and irresponsible.

Kay Brooks said...

I see where Michelle Obama and Sen. McCaskill sat with the undecideds but I don't see that the McCain ladies or Sen. Graham were down there on the floor with the undecideds. I appreciate the photo link but it's cropped to leave out context that would prove your point.

I was scanning the crowd looking for the woman I know. I have a hard time believing I'd have overlooked Cindy McCain in her bright blue dress with that signature pin on the shoulder.

N.S. Allen said...

Assuming that Michelle Obama somehow ended up seated near the undecideds, whereas others did not...what's the issue, here? Why does that matter in the least?

Anyway, I said last debate-post that I think polls tell us more than our own first impressions. So here are a few, the upshot of which is that Obama won by a lot:

CNN: 54% say Obama won, 30% say McCain did. Obama wins be twenty-four points.

CBS: 39% give it to Obama, 25% to McCain, 36% to no one. Obama trumps McCain by fourteen points.

Insider Advantage: Obama 42%, McCain 41%, Undecided 17%, Obama trumps McCain by one point.

Mediacurves.com: Obama wins independents by eighteen points and wins a bigger percentage of Dems than McCain did Republicans, by 16 points.

An undecided group covered by TIME: Obama "wins" the debate by eight points. 42% of the undecideds identified as Obama supporters post-debate, compared to 26% for McCain. Moreover, Obama's favorability ratings among the group went from 54% favorable to 80% favorable, post-debate.

Debate polls are volatile, of course, as you can see above, but I haven't seen a single one that gives McCain even a slight lead. That says something. Something that should make Steve Schmidt very, very afraid.

Kay Brooks said...

Online polls are worse than useless in that they can be manipulated fairly easily. Let's start with the fact that the MoveOn.org folks linked to them all and encouraged folks to vote. That's a normal tactic in order to influence the outcome.

The issue with Mrs. Obama sitting with the people that were supposed to be undecided Middle Tennessee voters is that she isn't a Middle Tennessee undecided voter. She's not even undecided. It is that she IS Mrs. Obama. AND, having your first (and I assume still) mentor close at hand appears to be preferential.

N.S. Allen said...

Okay, so, (again, assuming that this seating bit is true), Michelle ended up seated with the undecideds. Whoops. But, uhm, did any harm result from this seating? Did she intimidate the voters with her imposing physique or what? It seems like much ado about nothing.

Just to be clear, furthermore, the numbers I listed weren't polls that were, say, posted on the front page of the news organizations, on which anyone could vote. They were actual attempts at scientific polling, along with a poll of a live, undecided "debate watch" group.

CNN's, for instance, was conducted by telephone by the Opinion Research Corporation. Not an online poll.

CBS' was conducted via interview of a "nationally representative" sample of "undecided voters." I assume these were live or telephone interviews, but, in any case, the poll was not some internet poll anyone could click onto.

I couldn't find specific information on Insider Advantage's methodology on the debate poll in specific, but, in general, it appears they conduct telephone polls of registered voters.

Mediacurves.com also doesn't seem to have its methodology up, but, if you look at the site, it lists the poll's sample size as 1004 respondents. Obviously, listing sample size would make little sense if it was a voting free-for-all - and 1004 respondents in a free-for-all poll would be an incredibly small amount of traffic.

And the group covered by time TIME was, as I noted in the original post, not a broad poll at all but a live interview of a group of undecideds.

In short: your point about your standard, online poll being useless, while true, is irrelevent here, because none of these were your standard, online polls. Or online polls at all, in fact.

And, again, I haven't seen a scientific poll or even a response from an undecided group that broke in McCain's favor.