In their column today, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann lay down the “Morning Debate Line”. It’s pretty basic analysis but the Morrises pull it together very well.
They clearly feel that Senator McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign has played well and goosed his stalling effort back to life and even yielding a small lead:
…he’ll be coming off a bounce driven by his dramatic intervention this week in the financial-rescue package.
Zogby’s Interactive poll showed McCain gaining five points on Wednesday, going from a three-point deficit to a two-point lead. (Other polls aren’t one-night samples because they’re conducted over the phone and, so, take longer to field.)
In any debate tall, young, handsome, and charismatic will trump whatever the opposite of tall, young, handsome, and charismatic happens to be when the first question is asked. And in tonight’s context, that opposite would be John McCain.
But if the subject of the debate is —as it will be— national security, then that is Senator McCain’s strong suit.
Similarly Senator Obama’s wonkish predilection for parsing words and exploring nuances (very JFK) could come across as too clever by half compared to Senator McCain’s more intense and involved delivery (very RFK).
And while Senator McCain will be very much at home in the relatively free-ranging and unscripted debate context, Senator Obama’s greatest successes so far have been teleprompter-driven.
All things being equal, the candidates might be considered as being close to evenly matched. But it’s 2008 and things are far from being equal.
But the force is with Obama: It’s a Democratic year. McCain must keep pulling rabbits out of hats to keep in contention. All Obama has to do is persuade voters to do what they’re inclined to do anyway – vote Democrat.