Sunday, September 28, 2008

Is McCain Right? Does a Tie Go to the Runner?

"I was a little disappointed the media called it a tie, but I think that means when they call it a tie that means we win."
--John McCain

I may be a little late on this, but I thought I'd gauge the perceptions out there on this quotation. If you assume that a runner is an underdog and/or someone having to play offense, is that a win for the Arizona senator?

Here's what we know:
1) Last week was bad for McCain.
Effect: potentially lowered expectations

2) Foreign policy is supposed to be McCain's area.
Effect: Expectations were relatively high.

3) McCain played the experience/understanding card all night, but Obama was able to counter that by simply holding his own on the debate stage.
Effect: Well, that's where the tie comes in.

So, does McCain win in a draw scenario? More importantly, what happens if the McCain-Obama debates continue to be draws? That last one may or may not be obvious, but feel free to discuss while I update the electoral college map to reflect the changes brought about by yesterday's handful of polls.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (9/28/08)

The Electoral College Map (9/27/08)

Open Thread: First 2008 Presidential Debate


Jack said...

To me, that quote is McCain attacking the "liberal media," saying that they'd understate his performance.

Of course a draw is not good enough for McCain. Last I checked, he was behind in the race.

I was reading this article that said McCain is planning to create more distractions like the campaign suspension thing to divert media attention from his campaign. To me, that's entirely the wrong strategy. A candidate who is behind needs things to happen. It might cause him to fall further behind but it might cause him to surge, and we all know McCain loves the surge.

And I expect McCain to get a one or two point bounce from the VP debate.

S.D. said...

The way I see it, a "tie" in a debate means nothing changes, which means whoever was ahead before the debate stays ahead. In other words, a tie is a loss for the candidate who is behind (that would be McCain).

In any case, without an explanation of WHY a tie means he wins, his quote is pure spin.

SarahLawrenceScott said...

McCain is starting to get a reputation as almost manic. SNL is sometimes a good barometer of these things, and while they tried to float the idea of Obama as a Chicago machine politician, the main thrust was that McCain is a desperate politician looking for distractions who is, in the end, tired of campaigning.

That idea isn't settled yet, but it's close. If it is does stick, anything McCain does will cease to have an effect, because he's just a sideshow. He has to show that he's serious to get him back on his feet.

So a draw (or, more realistically according to the polls, a slight loss) here was OK for McCain, because he needs to regain his footing. But he can't continue to draw, or he loses by default, particularly because "game changing" moves will have progressively less effect.

One other note for future debates: McCain's now in a body-language bind. He's being told that he has to look Obama in the eye. It would be very easy to overplay that, and seem belligerent.

Obama, on the other hand, has been told that he agreed with McCain too much. Obama can play a "get out of jail free card" on that, though, by waiting for some issue like nuclear power to come up, and then saying in the next debate "I've been told that it's politically unwise for me to agree with John when he has a good idea. But that's exactly what I've been saying is broken with politics. We should be taking the best ideas and putting them into action, no matter where on the political spectrum they come from. So, let me make it clear: on this point, I agree with John."

So the expectations of body language set by the first debate strongly favor Obama in the next one.

Robert said...

Indications are that the polls of voters gave the win to Obama and the pundits gave it to McCain. So much for the Obama-bias in the media., although not unbiased source, had an interesting take at
The polls coming in today suggest that Obama helped himself more than McCain did.

It will be interesting to see what effect of the House vote today. The Dow is down 5% right now, the NASDAQ almost 7% and S&P down 6.5%.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that 538 link from Rob.

The weird thing is that there has been an almost complete lack of state polling today. I'm really surprised by this. Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. That's it. far.

I get that the national polls are swinging toward Obama in a big way, but how is that distributed across the states, especially the swing states? We've got an idea in two. Florida has swung 5 points toward Obama in the Survey USA polls since nearly two weeks ago. And Pennsylvania has bumped up another three points for Obama in the Muhlenberg tracker.

If Obama is getting 3-5 points across the swing states, then he would be in position to nearly sweep the pink states. Missouri and North Carolina would potentially be on the outside looking in, but even those polls are tightening.

...even before the debate.

I was hesitant to agree with Scott late last week that this race had moved beyond electoral vote counting (Perhaps that's just self interest.), but the more you look at the numbers, the worse it looks for McCain at this point.

SarahLawrenceScott said...

And now things change again.

We've reached financial armageddon.

I don't mean that the bailout should have passed--I don't understand the picture well enough to have an opinion.

But when was the last time you remember a vote on the House floor where the outcome was so uncertain even as the vote was being taken, and the stakes so high?

I don't think most people expected the bill to fail today. Certainly the markets didn't.

Obama and McCain both have a chance now to be heroes. They both supported the bailout in the end, so they're both up against a wall. What they each do in the next few days could very well decide not only the election, but the financial structure of this country for a decade or more.

Stay tuned...

Robert said...


I agree that what Obama and McCain do right now is very important. Their actions could either win OR lose the election.

cbsmith42 said...

I agree with the assessment that, I think, I heard on NPR (dunno, it's getting hard to remember where I heard or read what and it could have been here that I read it for all I know).

Obama's holding his own counts more because there's a group of folks that question whether he's ready and want to vote for him but have been holding back until they're convinced that he can be trusted given a 'lack of experience.' In effect, he didn't have to win to win but just had to maintain his own.

It might be hopeful on my part but it seems that the upward trend continues for Obama albeit slower than it has been recently.

Jack said...

The upward trend has to slow down at some point. There are only a certain number of people that will support Obama even if everything goes right for him. I don't know what the maximum he can get is – LBJ got 61.1% in 1964 but I suspect the limit for Obama is lower – but it's impossible for him to keep improving ad infinitum.

Robert said...

In the RCP national polls(I know most of you don't believe in the national polls, but they seem to predict the changes in the state polls by 3 days or so)Obama appears to be leveling off at 48%, but McCain continues to plunge since the Lehman collapse.

Josh Putnam said...

I have no idea what Obama's ceiling may be, but the political science forecasting model that yields the highest share of the two party vote for Obama is Brad Lockerbie's. That model has Obama getting 58% of the two party vote.

If all the models are averaged, Obama gets about 52.4%, according to Jay De Sart.

Jack said...

If we're talking shares of the two-party vote, the Johnson/Humphrey ticket got 61.3% in 1964 against Goldwater/Miller's 38.7%. That would be exceeded by the Roosevelt/Garner, who got 62.5% in 1936 against Landon/Knox's 37.5%. LBJ's percentage is the largest if votes for all candidates are included. The Lemke/O'Brien Union Party ticket took 2% of the vote in 1936, and the Thomas/Nelson Socialist ticket (0.4%) and Browder/Ford Communist ticket (0.2%, who knew Gerald Ford was a Communist?) both took more of the vote than any third-party candidate in 1964.