Thursday, September 18, 2008

National polls are volatile, but Americans moving back toward Barack Obama: The context seems to be the economy


Each of the last two weeks or so, national polls have shown clear reversals in public opinion: first in Sen. McCain's favor, then this week in favor of Sen. Obama. Many analysts assert that national polls don't matter. And to the extent that the state-by-state electoral college determines the winner of the election, they are right.

But still, national polling gives us insight, if not always about who will win, then about national habits of thought. It appears that in light of the financial crises currently facing the nation, Americans think that the Democratic Party is better equipped to fix economic problems. Americans seem to blame the GOP for the current failures of the economy. That might be unfair, that might be entirely fair. Rather, the point is that in this election year, the incumbent party -- despite having their men and women in all the key command points of the economy -- is having trouble solving the troubles in a way that reduces the fallout and increases their party's chances for re-election.

It is not that the Fed is doing nothing to try to fix things. In fact, they are doing unprecedented things, and have been since last March. They began cutting interests rates well before that. This past weekend and this week the Fed has stepped up their efforts even more, aggressively combating the financial problems with loads of easy money and so-called bail outs of troubled organizations. Despite the proactive response, the problems seem of a nature that will not go away any time soon. They seem -- could it be true? -- outside the control of the US alone. If so, this means that, going forward, the crumbling of Wall-Street and the broader economy will continue to be a leading contextual backdrop of the election season. There might simply be no way around it. Judging by the way the nation is currently thinking -- its lack of confidence in an economy they associate with the GOP -- it would seem Sen. Obama's chances will benefit from the continued crumbling. But it must be noted, there are four debates still to come. Those include three between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain, and one between Sen. Biden and Gov. Palin. These debates will shape the outcome, in one way or another.

Summary of McCain-Obama Debate Agreement

The two campaigns agreed today on a framework for four General Election debates, to be sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Key elements of the agreement are:

First Presidential Debate:

Date: September 26

Site: University of Mississippi

Topic: Foreign Policy & National Security

Moderator: Jim Lehrer

Staging: Podium debate

Answer Format: The debate will be broken into nine, 9-minute segments. The moderator will introduce a topic and allow each candidate 2 minutes to comment. After these initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining 5 minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment

Vice Presidential Debate:

Date: October 2nd

Site: Washington University (St. Louis)

Moderator: Gwen Ifill

Staging/Answer Format: To be resolved after both parties' Vice Presidential nominees are selected.

Second Presidential Debate:

Date: October 7

Site: Belmont University

Moderator: Tom Brokaw

Staging: Town Hall debate

Format: The moderator will call on members of the audience (and draw questions from the internet). Each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond to each question. Following those initial answers, the moderator will invite the candidates to respond to the previous answers, for a total of 1 minute, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment. In the spirit of the Town Hall, all questions will come from the audience (or internet), and not the moderator.

Third Presidential Debate:

Date: October 15

Site: Hofstra University

Topic: Domestic and Economic policy

Moderator: Bob Schieffer

Staging: Candidates will be seated at a table Answer

Format: Same as First Presidential Debate

Closing Statements: At the end of this debate (only) each candidate shall have the opportunity for a 90 second closing statement.

All four debates will begin at 9pm ET, and last for 90 minutes. Both campaigns also agreed to accept the CPD's participation rules for third-party candidate participation.

Source on the debates.

No comments: