From Bill Clinton to John McCain, Senator Barack Obama has proved adept at driving very smart politicians out of their comfort zone, leading them to make comments or embrace tactics that end up backfiring.It was shocking how bad McCain looked last night. Absolutely murdered on his appearance, whether it was his grimaces, his sighing, whatever. Watching the pundits praise his performance convinced me I was in bizarro-land, until the snap polls came out and gave the debate to Obama by even larger margins than before.
Maybe it was one tsk-tsk too much, but at Wednesday night’s debate, something seemed to snap inside Senator McCain after listening to Senator Obama’s cool, high-minded lecture about inappropriate conduct at Republican rallies.
“What is important is making sure that we disagree without being disagreeable,” the 47-year-old freshman Democrat told the 72-year-old four-term Republican. “What we can’t do, I think, is try to characterize each other as bad people.”
Mr. McCain, who had appeared composed and confident up to that point, responded by veering into heated denouncements of Mr. Obama’s loose ties to Bill Ayers, the former Weather Underground leader, and the community organizing group Acorn, which has been accused of voter fraud. Mr. McCain did not explain what Acorn was, probably confusing many viewers, and he never regained control of the debate.
“All of these things need to be examined,” Mr. McCain said about Mr. Ayers and Acorn.
I really do wonder what the ceiling on Obama's vote is. I month ago, I would have said a 5% margin, and about 290 electoral votes. But Pollster.com is already putting Obama at 8 points up with 310+. Meanwhile, fivethirtyeight.com is predicting 354 evs for Obama, with a smaller margin. I assume the race will tighten somewhat, as nominal undecideds pick a side. But all the polls show Obama winning more of the undecideds than McCain, so I can't see it contracting that much.
Almost any scenario you can reasonably imagine at this point shows Obama winning one of the largest victories in my lifetime.