Monday, January 07, 2008

Debate Analysis

Saturday evening’s New Hampshire Presidential debates televised on ABC were probably the best Presidential debates I have ever seen. Charles Gibson did a good job of introducing topics and then getting out of the way as the candidates clarified their own positions and mischaracterized the positions of some of the other candidates. Viewers had a good opportunity to hear the ideas and see the personalities of the major Republican and Democratic candidates.

Here are some of my thoughts on the debates:

Biggest Surprise: The Democrats, with the exception of Governor Richardson, sounded like adults trying to widen their appeal beyond the activist extremes in their party. They were all able to talk about domestic and foreign policy challenges without just bashing the Bush Administration. Richardson sounded like he was on pain medication. His friends and family need to begin gentle intervention.

Most Predictable Moment: John McCain has never delivered a funny line in a debate. Mitt Romney is flatter on his feet than President Bush. You had to know that at some point in the debate, John McCain was going to botch a good line and Mitt Romney was going to let him get away with it by botching the comeback even worse.

Best Communicator: Of all the candidates, Rudy Giuliani seems to always know where his is going with his comments. He gives just enough introductory information, just enough meat to make his point, and then ends with a quick close. Barack Obama is also good at making a point, but Obama’s points are way too generalized for my liking. I don’t need a complete explanation, but I do need a few specifics.

Biggest Winner: All of the candidates had multiple opportunities to turn any question into a campaign issue with a salient point. All of the candidates, Richardson excepted, were prepared, capable, and successful at presenting themselves and their major campaign themes. Of all the candidates thought, I believe Governor Huckabee did the most to demonstrate that he is different from the way he is being characterized by the conservative media. Huckabee won by making conservative points and taking ammunition away from his opponents. He also has a way of smiling at the right times and frowning at the right times to come across as very likeable.

Biggest Loser: Mitt Romney is smart, he knows the issues, even the details of the issues, but he usually comes across as too prepared and too robotic. He needs to convince voters he believes what he says and he needs to be more likeable to voters who want a President who can relate to their issues and their feelings. By running negative adds and then by wanting to get back to the issues when he was challenged about his negative campaign adds, Romney reinforced the feelings of voters who think he is a robot unable to relate to average Americans.

Finally in the Game: Fred Thompson was also a winner in the debate. He should be able to compete with Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Huckabee going forward.

Enigma: Ron Paul is a complete enigma. He is completely right about the Constitution and completely wrong about foreign policy. Being right about the Constitution still wouldn’t get him elected even if he was also right about foreign policy. There are just too many Americans who want the Federal government dictating policies from Washington.

Running Mates: It is very interesting how the two candidates with the most to disagree about never even brought up the other candidate or his positions. I bet Giuliani is thinking Huckabee would make a good running mate and I bet Huckabee is thinking Giuliani would make a good running mate. I don’t think I could vote for either one unless they were running on the same ticket. The sum would be greater than the parts.


Buz said...

Hey, David, speaking of all the candidates, here is a puzzle for you ...

Q: When is a survey not a survey?

A: When it is an attack add in the form of a question.

We are having a primary this week here in Michigan, and McCain, Huck, and Mitt are running neck and neck. We have had about nine calls here just yesterday and today ... some of them repeated several times.

An automated one starts out "This is a survey that will take about 45 seconds ... are you aware that Mitt Romney dedicated money to fund abortions in his state? Would this make you more likely to vote for another Republican candidate?"

Another one that was a live call started out with the same "information". I finally told the woman on the other end that in 1929, Adolf Hitler was the most popular political candidate in Germany, at which point she hung up on me.

I confused an automated call that was expecting yes/no answers by talking gibberish. It got frustrated with "flibdibllitz", "gerksnork", and "habduabaslok". That really made my day, having an automated call hang up on me in disgust.

Maybe we need to sponsor an ammendment that would prohibit anyone who has a law degree, ever studied law, or even been in the same school where law is taught from holding any type of political office. Or better yet, only people who are mute can hold office or be employed or volunteer to assist anyone holding or seeking office.


David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

It seems like the professional campaign executives think voters are stupid. They might be right about some voters, but I suspect other voters are aware of these tactics which makes them less likely to vote for a candidate who is deceptive.

I keep getting a survey from the Republican National Committee that is a complete joke because most of the questions use terms like “liberal” and “conservative” to telegraph how a real Republican should vote. The survey ends with a request for money.

If it weren’t for Democrats, I wouldn’t have anything to do with Republicans. : - )