Analysis: The Third and Final Presidential Debate

October 15, 2008

In a debate questioned from different strategic and political views across the aisle, tonight was with no question the best and most interesting debate we have seen. And in the end, I think the debate ended close, which ultimately is a McCain loss from a strategic standpoint. 

But in what may have ended that way it has didn’t come off the bat as a victory or tie in any means for Obama, who came off, in my opinion, too conservative and defensive as far as his personality. However, as soon as the most vital question strategically came forward, McCain figuratively drove off the track.

The topic of Bill Ayers and negative campaigning permanently turned the debate personal, which let Obama immediately capitalize and climb back in the debate, ultimately ending in a draw. 

But what I found most interesting from this debate was that John McCain was seemingly derailed from a single soundbite and rather attacked in a much more frequent and less crowd pleasing manner. 

 And I think that the pundits and press respectively with  point this out. But I think that McCain’s strategy will  essentially turn out to be more long term than short as far  as the election. 

 As I have stressed for the last few days, McCain came into  the debate with more of a burden on his shoulders to capitalize and pull off a game changing attack, and he came out without accomplishing this. And I think that this essentially ends up as a loss for McCain despite the close performance that he put forward against Obama. 

Why? McCain didn’t talk about the voter, rather either attacking Obama or discussing what he would do differently than Bush and Obama when elected. In fact, the only time McCain talked about the voter was in the topic of his running mate’s policy of special needs children, especially autism. But if I may point out — in fact McCain is contradicting — Palin cut the Alaskan special olympics in half. 

What is my point? In the end, McCain essentially tied, won or lost against Obama in a short margin, but he didn’t get back in to the election in any respect. Although the debate was extremely interesting from the right and the left alike, McCain has ended his campaigning in the national eye with a certainly benefiting performance — but I can’t stress enough that McCain didn’t do enough to make a difference in the voting booth. And this will ultimately contribute to McCain’s continuing loss in the polls. 

So I’ll open this up to the commenters: Who won the debate, by how much, and will it make a short and long term difference?


26 Responses to “Analysis: The Third and Final Presidential Debate”

  1. katbur Says:

    McCain was “tougher” than in the previous debates but he was twitchy. Eye rolls, weird faces and I don’t know if he forgot he was on the television or if he had extra energy because he was going all maverick. Anyway President Obama will be elected on 11/4.

  2. pacer521 Says:


    I agree that he was tougher, but I really can’t stress enough that this election still isn’t over.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. PiedType Says:

    Joe the Plumber won.

  4. pacer521 Says:


    Yeah, it seemed like Joe was mentioned a few too many times.

  5. JoeJoe Says:

    Yes, Joe the Plumber did win in terms of sheer mentions. Can’t wait to see SNL go after that 😆

    I believe Obama won by a smidgen. My complete thoughts are at my blog.

  6. freedomrebel Says:

    McCain was good off the starting block. But, this style of debate is not his strong suit. He did the same thing to Mitt Romney. McCain went on the attack and once again sealed his fate.

    When you attack your opponent, you lose sight of your goal. The goal is to make the American People believe you care about their issues and concerns.

    Then we get to the anger issues. If he could control that, McCain would come across much better to the undecideds.

    But, what will ultimately seal his fate with women is his stance on abortion. His not allowing an abortion if the woman has health issues that would prohibit her to carry it to term. That is over the top. I don’t have any pro-life friends that agree with that stance. That is far too extreme.

    So for me, Obama has a great finish. He didn’t disappoint me in the least. I like his confidence and well thought out policies that he has for this country.

    He was not my first choice, I have grown to admire him. Even though, I do not agree with every decision he has made. I’m very liberal and Obama is more of a moderate.

    Good to see you Pacer and I think you did a very good post on this debate..

  7. pacer521 Says:


    I really can’t believe how much attention he has gotten, I agree. Obama did win by a smidgen in my view, but it is not going to be enough to change anything in the polls. thanks for the comment.

  8. pacer521 Says:


    Thanks for the comment — the debate certainly did prove to go negative for McCain. Sorry for the short reply — and a message to everyone — I am going to be away on school retreat tomorrow and will also be attending a biden event, so sorry if I don’t answer any questions.


  9. Fraz Says:

    Cant agree more. I think McCain defeated himself.

  10. paul8bee Says:

    quote””Then we get to the anger issues. If he could control that, McCain would come across much better to the undecideds.””

    If this 70+ year old man has not yet got hold of his anger problems, do you think he ever will.””a year of therapy might help,” but to still be this messed up at this age. closed…

  11. John Hummel Says:

    “Why? McCain didn’t talk about the voter, rather either attacking Obama or discussing what he would do differently than Bush and Obama when elected. In fact, the only time McCain talked about the voter was in the topic of his running mate’s policy of special needs children, especially autism. But if I may point out — in fact McCain is contradicting — Palin cut the Alaskan special olympics in half. ”

    I loved that comment – and it really summed up the problem McCain has.

    Obama can connect to the voters – and McCain hasn’t because he hasn’t made the election about *them* – just himself.

  12. Manysounds Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed McCain’s complete avoidance of the question “Do you think Sara Palin would make a good president?”. He never said yes or no and diverted the question to ‘special needs children’ which pisses me off because my brother is autistic and not a polical tool.

  13. cmk71 Says:

    I’m surprised so many people thought McCain did well in this debate. I actually thought the first was his strongest and that he has steadily gone downhill in the following appearances. To me he looked old and angry. The grinning, grunting, and jaw clenching made him look petulant, not presidential. Although I thought the first debate was more or less a draw, I’d call this one a clear Obama win.

  14. pacer521 Says:


    Thanks for the comment.

  15. pacer521 Says:


    yeah, his anger didn’t really contribute positively last night. Thanks for the read and comment.

  16. pacer521 Says:

    John Hummel,

    yeah, thanks for the compliment, I think that the polls may be a bit loose but in the end it looks like Obama is going to carry this out. Thanks for the comment.

  17. huxbux Says:

    I always find it striking that the breadth of people’s impressions of the debates centers around “performance” ergo a candidates ability to act in front of a camera. The moderator in a debate could ask questions like “What is your favorite color?” and it would be all the same to the majority of viewers.

    Granted, many times a candidate avoids a question all together and rallies around talking points. I’ll always be perplexed at people’s fascination with a candidate “looking presidential”. Acting certainly plays a large role in politics, especially in totalitarian countries(and no I’m not making a veiled allusion to either Obama or McCain being a dictator).

    I can’t say who won from a policy standpoint as the debate is residing on my DVR at the moment. Curiously, I’m in no rush to watch it. Wonder why? 🙂

  18. my2bucks Says:

    Obama played it conservative and took over the debate when he brought up Bill Ayers himself. I thought that was brilliant because he took Ayers out of the debate that way.

    Obama’s best line was when he said that voters don’t care about their hurt feelings right after McCain said that his feelings were hurt.

    McCain shot himself in the foot when he mocked the health of the mother in the Roe v Wade debate.

    McCain was rude, commenting while Obama was speaking and his facial expressions were a distraction for me.

    About 50 minutes into the debate, I had McCain ahead but Obama closed well and McCain seemed to struggle for a while. I also wondered why it seemed that McCain got the last word on nearly every question.

    I give the debate to Obama and if the election was today, it wouldn’t be a close election. With 3 weeks to go, there is still an eternity left. To put it in perspective – Palin joined the ticket 7 weeks ago tomorrow. Look at all that has occurred since that time.

    I’m adding you to my blogroll.

  19. jlv0628 Says:

    I think Obama just barely won. However if I were him I would have definitely shown a bit of outrage when McCain tap danced around the comment he made about the people in his rally shouting for his death. If John McCain wants Obama to repudiate Lewis’ remarks, McCain needs to get a handle on his supporters…who are all riled up because of McCain and Palin anyway.

    Great post Pacer.


  20. pacer521 Says:


    Yeah, I agree — he really ducked out of that question. Thanks for the comment.


    I personally think Obama came away with the win, but I will acknowledge that McCain also showed us a good performance as well. Thanks for the comment.

  21. pacer521 Says:


    I agree — the debate is truly no time for the pundits or frankly anyone to learn or find out anything about policies, and I don’t blame you for being in no rush to check out the debate. Its really the undecideds that the debate effects, and we all get to watch their reactions.

    If you do get around to checking out the debate, try to notice the turn of personality after the question about negative campaigning.

    Thanks as always for the comment and being a subscriber.

  22. pacer521 Says:


    I agree — it was brilliant to take Ayers out of the question by bringing him up. I think it all boils down to the fact that Obama is truly more intellectual and in this case presidential. And I think this resulted in McCain getting a bit agitated.

    Thanks for the blogroll, I really appreciate it.

  23. pacer521 Says:


    I agree, certainly if I was Obama I would try to rip up McCain for politically tap dancing. But it think strategically it was better for him to stay calm, he can diss McCain all he wants if he gets to the white house, so he should worry about that first.

    Thanks for the comment and read!

  24. Alberto Says:

    I feel McCain won the debate, but that it is too late for a comeback. This is what McCain should have done in the first debate when he also had his experience in foreign policy to back up his character attacks.

  25. Edu Says:

    I,m With Obama/Biden ,change is comming soon!

  26. BiilYBonnYU Says:

    Excellent blog! Interesting article and very informative! I will necessarily subscribe for this blog.

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