Home stretch analysis: Three weeks to go!

We’ve made to this point after two long, grueling years of covering this whole thing, we’ve made it to the last three weeks of the campaign. No more debates, just candidates stumping and sniping in the media. We’re at this point with two candidates I saw as unlikely, Barack Obama and John McCain. Nonetheless, they are the nominees and the vote happens November 4th.

In Wednesday night’s debate we clearly witnessed an energized McCain, much different than the previous two debates. He was on the offensive, he took Obama’s challenge to bring up Ayers and did so. Furthermore, he also posed numerous other questions concerning Obama’s associations and character. The only problem for McCain is that this last debate saw the ratings down sharply from the first two, which means even if McCain’s attacks were effective, fewer people saw them.

Obama was able to stick to his message in the debate and continue his points, however, he was forced to go off message and address some of McCain’s criticism, which is something we haven’t seen since Obama was debating Hillary Clinton during the primary. In my opinion, Obama wasn’t on his game as much as he was in the first two debates, where he seemed to fly right by McCain without issue. That being said, Obama still has the upper hand at this point, at least if you’re measuring by the polls.

I see Obama’s strategy, as already alluded to in this article, will be to continue linking McCain to President Bush’s policies, which Obama says have been a failure for 8 years.

McCain’s strategy, as we saw last night, will be try and position himself as the contrast to Obama’s “socialism,” as evidenced by McCain jumping on the “Joe the Plumber” bandwagon.

At my request, our other news/poster and commentary editor, Michael, gave me his thoughts via email since he is currently traveling:

After the third debate and the longest stretch of presidential campaigning in U.S history, the election is near at hand. The last debate on domestic affairs addressed some old points and new, and of course, introduced the newest member of the political circuit, Joe the Plumber.

McCain entered the debate facing a difficult situation. He was trailing in the polls, and had pressure from his constituents to be hard on Obama– while catching fire from the media about his campaign’s negativity. McCain had promised his constituents he would let Obama have it, while expressing interest to maintain a civil and respectful platform throughout the debate. This ambivalence was noticeable during the debate– as McCain’s attacks at times appeared as non sequiturs. Yet, during the debate McCain managed to pay homage to both sides of the spectrum, drawing out some attacks on Obama, such as the reference to Bill Ayers, and Obama’s taxation of the rich. Outside of the periodic attacks, McCain maintained a very calm and civil demeanor. While some of his constituents might have wished McCain to have been more aggressive (or less), McCain ended up doing what he had to without costing himself any political capital. His most successful attack came in characterizing Obama as a heavy taxer– and of promoting bigger government. I feel this last point has been largely under-used by the McCain campaign and has a lot of power behind it if used and promoted properly.

Obama needed to maintain his image and successful fend off the attacks. He was able to redress the Ayers controversy as well as other
issues such as attacks on his legislative history in the Illinois Senate fairly well. His level-headed responses and thorough reflections probably gained him points in the eyes of voters unfamiliar with him. Although Obama might have lost Joe the Plumber’s vote (and perhaps some small business owners’ votes) during the debate, Obama probably gained more ground with independents. On the flip side, he might have lost some Hillary supporters to McCain. While Obama managed to display a strong support for women’s issues, McCain was the candidate who succeed in invoking and aligning himself with Clinton’s initiatives and policies (such as addressing the housing crisis, or repeating her earlier argument about Obama’s health care policy). Obama’s strongest moments came when he compared McCain’s hacking of expenditures versus his scalpel remedy, and his succinct presentation of his health care policy. Throughout the debate Obama appeared knowledgeable and forthright, and this was a very important defensive element which should provide some shield from any ‘new to
the game’ or ‘inexperience’ attacks in future weeks.

It will take about a week for the polls to reflect the impact of this last debate. I suspect that Obama will pick up 1-3 more points in the
Real Clear Politics national poll average. McCain was able to give the talking points that his constituents wanted to hear (no big business,
no more spending, no higher taxes), but this was not going to win him over many new voters. If Obama does pick up these additional points
(pushing him within double digits over McCain) this will force McCain to dramatically increase the stakes.

Unlike previous election years, McCain as the Republican nominee, is not in a position to outspend his Democratic opponent in advertising, a fact McCain called attention to during the debate. While the Republican Party has promised to extend their funds to the
McCain campaign, this will not equalize the playing field, and probably cost the Republican more seats in Congress. McCain will need
to issue attack ads that are well crafted (and difficult to refute), in order to sustain their impact – that, or he will need to plan a Hail Mary sneak attack of negative ads 24-48 hours prior to election day in order to retain their effect. McCain is the type to shy away from unorthodox maneuvers, and one of these is in order within these next couple weeks.

Obama at this point needs to maintain his vigilance and continue explaining his policies and responding/successfully refuting McCain’s attacks. We will probably see and hear more of Palin as the days go by and there will be much more pressure on Hillary to provide shelter to
both either candidates. Hillary could provide a switch in national favor over night if she wanted, though I doubt she will provide this.

My outgoing prediction is that the race will continue to tighten over the next three weeks. Furthermore, I believe this race is more of a 4 to 5 point race with Obama in the lead, not a 10 to 14 point race according to a few polls. I believe it is tighter than many would think and it will continue to be that way for the next three weeks, which will be an eternity for these campaigns. I believe this race is anybody’s game at this point since, as I recall, Al Gore was up by 11 points during October yet Bush won the election. We shall see what happens come November 4th.

So there it is, if you’re not satisfied with our analysis, email for a full refund of your purchase price.

  • TripleX

    This election is about a lot more than just economics. We are at war and everyone should question whether Obama has the integrity and ability to lead this nation at this time. And, would he keep this country safe, or will his affiliations with radicals/terrorist lead to more devastation? In my opinion, I don’t believe he has what it takes. Let me explain another connection to a radical/terrorist. In 2006, Obama campaigned for a relative in Kenya, who was running for the Presidency. Obama’s cousins name is Raila Odinga. Subsequently, Odinga lost by 230,000 or so votes. He did not accept the loss. So he called for demonstrations by his political supporters who in turn committed ethnic cleansing and genocide. Point blank, this guy tried to subvert the election process and use blackmail until he got what he wanted. Here is a video that gives a good accounting of the events along with photo’s as proof of Obama and Odinga campaigning together. And Obama, used U.S. taxpayer money for this and his Senatorial position to help this terrorist. Titled: Barack Obama & Raila Odinga – Link: – http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=S8QcpdUtxNQ&feature=related

  • ed read

    For us living in the NorthAmerican Region (United States, Canada and Mexico), having families spread over the two or three countries, and dual citizenships , this is a very important election.

    We want to see a United States of America changing for the better, and providing good, real, honest leadership.
    We want to see racism and prejuidice going really down, like the Berlin wall (a black man being president, to begin with).
    We want to see an extended basic health care system afordable to everybody.
    We want to see a US not being involved in so many extremely expensive wars, but in humanitarian productive projects instead.
    We want to see more affordable higher education.
    We don´t want to see ridiculous walls, again, like the Berlin one, dividing countries.
    We want to see better coordination, productive and social among the three countries.
    This world is more communicated every day, we are interdependent and the solutions to crisis are not unilateral anymore. Bigger or smaller everyone has something to contribute to the region.
    The next president of the United States should account for this issues as well.

  • Either candidate will end the United States’ sovereignty. One signature of an executive order could nullify Congress and establish a North American Union.

  • EricF

    anyone that say or thinks the “rich” arent taxed enough should do some real research before spouting nonsense. here i did the research for you, took me about 20 seconds if that…

    http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=6

  • Bill Hedges

    C.S.–What executive Order could do that ? Under what authority ? Please tell me the the Consitutional authority for this..

  • ObamaIsTheMan

    wow you anti Obama people are just crazy. Obama is poised and easily articulates his points. we need a leader with a steady hand in this time of crisis. to prove my point i think everyone should watch this video of Obama at his best and you will se why he has shown his ability to come through under pressure.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omHUsRTYFAU

  • Bill Hedges

    Ed read–No wall ? –I know Mexico has rules for Amercans living in Mexico. So does the whole world for ilegals. . Who in America does not know we have Multi million ilegal people living in America. We have legal waitng list . We are a nation of laws. America born babies, by illegals, should not be citizens. Our laws on people entering here legally should be followed and performed fairly.

  • Obama has proven he’s cool under pressure where McCain is an angry man with a temper. McCain might be the guy who can fight wars, but perhaps the time has come when we all should just put extra effort in to stop fighting and work out our difference diplomatically.

    America is the leader of the free world, I live in that world but don’t feel free because of some of the things related to America. IT IS time for change.

  • EricF

    ok look, i would liketo consider Obama as a candidate but i need to get he facts straight. all i have seen or heard is opinion and campaign claims that may or not be true. lets try to sort out fact from fiction. i ask you all to help me.

    the first topic will be the “95% of Americans will get a tax cut.”

    so Obama claims anyone making under $250,000 a year will get this tax cut. first question is does this apply to people with no income or people that pay no taxes already?

    from Obamas website

    Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Obama and Biden will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need. Obama and Biden will create a new “Making Work Pay” tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.

    from wiki

    The United States population is projected by the U.S. Census Bureau to be 305,429,000.

    so does this mean only 50% will get a tax cut?

    someone please help me to understand better and pls give sources or i will ignore you. i have been trying to research Obamas tax plan but there is a total lack of details available and therefore i cant come to a real conclusion based on facts. not even after having visited his website. i consider myself a pretty good researcher but cannot come up with any solid details. any help would be much appreciated.

    by all means take this as a challenge. if im wrong and Obamas plan is a good one i would really like to see why and how it would work.

    thanks in advance.

  • EricF

    also, is the $250,000 gross or net and are any deductions applied before calculating who makes $250,000. please give your source if you are going to answer. thanks.

  • Babs

    EricF, I eagerly await these answers with you. There are too many questions and retractions, and not enough answers.

    It’s my personal theory that Obama likes it this way. Sheep don’t ask the shepard if he’s leading them home or to slaughter, they just follow his voice.

  • EricF

    Babs i think i killed this thread. lol. i have been checking here all morning for answers. when i saw there was a reply i was thinking here we go. but still no response. dont get me wrong Babs, your replies make me smile 🙂 i can just imagine right now all the Obama supporters are searching the internet looking for answers, because they are as in the dark as i am. i did my part. i looked for the official answers but cant find any. all i can find is vague answers and opinions of what people think he means. well, i will be here waiting patiently.

  • There IS no constitutional authority for it, Bill. Pres. Bush has become more and more audacious about defying the will of the American people and the Congress. He signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership in secret in 2005, and no President has had the level of power to claim Americans are “terrorists” that Bush has.

  • Babs

    EricF, you know what’s funny? Last Feb. I researched Obama’s economic plan for the first time. It in no way resembled what it is now. I can remember when his big stump speech was that he’d make sure it would take taxpayers no longer than 5 minutes to fill out their tax forms every year by laying the burden of compilation on the IRS, thus saving $2 billion in taxpayer preparer fees. This was like #2 on his list of enomonic fixes, and I think he thought that would really resonate with his target audience. Even they weren’t that stupid, so he dropped it.

    Remember when McCain said in the second debate that Obama had come out with 5 or 6 economic plans, and if you didn’t like any of them just wait, a new one would be out soon? Well, that about sums it up, and that’s why you’re not getting any conversation here on it.

  • EricF

    this just confirms what i have been saying this whole time. Obama is just telling the people what hey want to hear. notice how it went from 95% of Americans will get a tax break, then when called out about it it turns into 95% of working americans and their family. yet still no details come out. you really have to question the 95% number. it SOUNDS really good but whats the reality? why wont he answer the questions directly instead of side stepping everything? well, im still waiting patiently for answers. can anyone, anyone help me out?

  • Eric, I do not have a lot of time– but Obama’s tax credits do not pertain to people not working or filing taxes (nor would anyone’s).

    Every candidate has changed their economic plan, McCain has as well (as we just saw with a recent post on his consultation with Hillary over recent events). It is not a weakness to alter your future plan based on current events, but a strength– and McCain and Obama are both doing this.

  • EricF

    Michael, source? oh

  • Babs

    Michael, I beg to differ. The only people in this country not required to file a tax return are those over the age of 70 who have no income other than their social security checks. People not working DO file tax returns, and they are the very core of Obama’s tax plan.

  • EricF

    this is what im saying, why cant anyone quote a source? the fact of the matter is that there is not a single person that knows the details of Obamas tax plan. im starting to think not even Obama knows. my goodness. the blind leading the blind.

    also i find it hilarious how all these non-Americans think they know whats best for America and they all want Obama to win. that right there says a whole hell of a lot.

  • Babs

    Well, I agree on the non-Americans, except that doesn’t include Michael. He is an American, he’s just a world traveler, apparently. 😉

    I actually can give you the bottom line of Obama’s tax plan.

    Take money away from those who have earned it, and give it to people who have not earned it.

    That’s it in a nutshell. Redistribution of wealth, ie socialism. Class warfare.

  • Pats

    I’ve been waiting for those answers as well but I’m not convinced by Babs’ response. Hence the answers are not coming, I suggest the examiner supplies the answers he has in mind so that his pupils learn from him.

  • Eric, I do not have a lot of time– but Obama’s tax credits do not pertain to people not working or filing taxes (nor would anyone’s).

    If that’s the case, then how do “95% of Americans get a tax cut” as Obama always says? If you aren’t paying taxes, such as a good portion of Americans, what is a tax cut? Is not a refund check for taxes you never paid given back from the people who do pay taxes?

    Obama hasn’t explained this, which is why we’re here discussing it.

    Now everyone, cut Michael some slack, he is indeed the world traveler and yet, has continued gracing us with his presence and insight when he finds a random internet cafe.

  • JD

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

    I’m back for a limited engagement…

    ***EricF – “this is what im saying, why cant anyone quote a source?”

    I would ask you to do the same question. But in truth it doesn’t matter if a source is given or not(although I am all for reputable sourcing). I mean, I showed you direct sources and real photography of Obama’s Birth Certificate and that wasn’t enough for you, was it?

    Believe it or not but you are not really interested in finding out the answers nor are you legitimately even considering changing your stance.

    If all your answers were given, then you ask for a source. If a source is given than you call it BIAS or unfounded and maybe ask for the source’s source. Then further down the rabbit hole you go no matter the information laid out in front of you.

    But I suppose we are all guilty of this and some people way more than others.

    EricF – “the first topic will be the “95% of Americans will get a tax cut.”

    Refundable tax credit for wage earners and the self-employed. The credit would equal 6.2 percent of up to $8,100 in earnings, yielding a maximum credit of about $500. Spouses filing jointly could each claim the credit based on their own earnings. All thresholds would be indexed for inflation after 2009.

    Earned income tax credit – Obama would increase the maximum amount of earned income on which the credit for childless workers is calculated and increase the amount at which the phase-out begins, and in 2012 it would be indexed for inflation. He would double the phase-in and phase-out rates for childless workers who pay child support from 7.65 to 15.3 percent. Thus, their maximum tax credit would double from $555 to $1,110 in 2012.

    Obama would also increase the credit rate from 40 to 45 percent for taxpayers with three or more children (but keep the phase-out rate at 21.06 percent). Finally, the phase-out threshold for joint filers would be $5,000 higher than for heads of household (up from $3,100 under current law) and that amount would be indexed for inflation after 2009.

    Detials of Obama and McCain’s Economic Plans line-by-line and side-by-side.

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/election_issues_matrix.cfm

    ****EricF – “does this apply to people with no income or people that pay no taxes already?

    This would apply to people who file their taxes in the US which means you are a working citizen. So, Yes, you will have to prove that you have taxable income to be eligible for these tax breaks.

    Just like it is done today.

    Do you need to know or need clarification of how our tax system works currently?

    **** EricF – “The United States population is projected by the U.S. Census Bureau to be 305,429,000. So does this mean only 50% will get a tax cut?”
    NO.

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

    The civilian labor force 154.7 Million – What you are not considering is what makes up the labor force. It is not the total 300 Million that currently live in the US because at least 25% are under 18(not working) and another other 15% are retired(not working). So you have to look at our civilian labor force to understand where the 150 million comes from.

    This is well known in economics.

    Other Fun Facts…

    Percent of population broken down by income.

    http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032007/hhinc/new06_000.htm

    A graph from…

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/66/Income-curve-%2410k.png/800px-Income-curve-%

    ****Babs – ” I can remember when his big stump speech was that he’d make sure it would take taxpayers no longer than 5 minutes to fill out their tax forms … he dropped it.”

    Negative.

    This is still apart of the Obama Tax plan. Obama states that he is looking to “Enable as many as 40 million middle-class Americans to do their
    own taxes in less than five minutes without an accountant and dramatically simplify taxes by consolidating existing tax credits, eliminating the need for millions of
    senior citizens to file tax forms. ”

    Read it here. You’ll notice it is the 4th bullet down so you don’t have to read far before it is mentioned.

    http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/taxes/Factsheet_Tax_Plan_FINAL.pdf

    ****EricF- “notice how it went from 95% of Americans will get a tax break, then when called out about it turns into 95% of working Americans and their family.”

    It has always been “Working Americans”. What you are confusing is Unemployed Americans are still working Americans. Unemployed Americans are still apart of our tax code and this is a fact that has been true in the past, still is true currently, and will continue no matter if McCain or Obama are president.

    EricF – “also i find it hilarious how all these non-Americans think they know what’s best for America and they all want Obama to win. that right there says a whole hell of a lot.”

    It says that people all around the world feel the effects of what the US does and so in return they have an interest in US politics.

    We all are connected and so we all have and form our own opinions about other nations like Australia, England, France, Russia, China… so on and so forth.

    You shouldn’t discredit people if they know their facts, no matter what nation they are from. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.

  • Pats

    JD, thank you very much. I think your explanation makes sense. I’m not an American, I don’t live in America and I don’t want to live in America but my children live in America. I follow the American politics because America is one of the world leaders, the champion of democracy and the pace setter. The world is a global village and no particular state is an island. God bless America.

  • Bill Hedges

    CS- I am not aware of it completely. I believe the supreme court has ruled on it. And changes had to be made. It is not a secret thing. I totally agree rights must be limited to protect our way of life. You are talking about reading emails, phone calls and stuff without court order ?Done for our national security. I know you disagree. I respect your view. I hope you do mine.

  • Bill Hedges

    JD–Your article comparing Obama plan to McCain plan by neutral group are things I study. For non- bias comparison truely gives me my reason to vote for my choice, I hope others use facts like that.

  • EricF

    thanks for the info JD, i was really having trouble finding any details.

    i still think its a bad plan for the economy. this would most certainly raise prices on most goods and services. i still see it as a net loss for the average consumer, your dollar wont go as far. i dont think this is really what we need right now. on top of that i dont think it would create an enviroment condusive to job growth. in fact i think it would do the complete opposite.

    if your going to take more from the rich i would rather see that money go into something more meaningfull and long lasting than a check once a year.

    as for the birth certificate thing i cant say either way but it is claimed that its a forgery. it makes me suspicious that instead of just producing the documents they would rather fight it in court. i honestly have no idea what the truth is but until it is proven or dismissed in a court of law i have to remain skeptical. i openly admit im a conspiracy theorist (nut) so something like this grabs my attention.

  • Babs

    Has anyone stopped to realize that Obama’s tax rebate is the same thing as Bush’s stimulus check this year? Did THAT make our economy any better?? No, it didn’t.

    JD, thanks for letting me know that idiotic thing was still in his plan. I’ll laugh again.

  • EricF

    Babs i have had those same exact thoughts. also i think its always better when you have smaller goverment and less spending. another thing to look at is the fact that McCain would get us to energy indepedency alot faster than Obama would. i think that is very important.

  • Babs

    Agreed, and again, getting us to that energy independence is only possible by creating jobs, jobs, and more jobs. When will people ever wake up? We need a hand up, not a hand out.

  • JD

    EricF – “this would most certainly raise prices on most goods and services”

    Do you have any evidence of this? In truth Obama is not raising taxes to a level that it was not before George Bush. If fact, he is looking to raise taxes to where they were in the 1990’s.

    So lets look at the question that raising taxes has a cost effect that is passed down and then under this notion if taxes are decreased than the price of products should therefor decrease.

    If Taxes have decreased for the rich, and big companies (Which it has) than why has the prices not reflected this decrease in their taxes?

    In truth Obama is not talking about a 100% tax hike. We are talking a few percentage points to return it to where it was in the 90’s and we didn’t hear them complaining any more now than they did then.

    The real cost of products does not have to do with Tax unless you are talking about imported or tarrifed products but then again this kind of taxing is product specific.

    Real company costs are from energy, transportation, storage and labor.

    The way companies have been keeping thier prices down is by outsourcing thier LABOR not by getting thier taxes lowered. Look at Walmart as an example of this.

  • Bill Hedges

    Babs- Sarah does not make all the funny mistakes. Biden is known for it. His recent one was saying he had 3 letter WORD…. J.O.B.S.

  • EricF

    JD business’ dont pay taxes. they pass the cost onto consumers. that is fact. do you really think they will just let their profits drop? be realistic here. it is crucial that America stays competetive in keeping business’ here and giving those that have left incentive to come back. we are not the only option anymore. how can you expect job growth when you are raising the taxes on the people that create the jobs?

    well i guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree. all we can do is wait and see what happens and who is right. i like McCains plan much better and you like Obamas. in time we will find out who was right.

  • JD

    I’ll agree to disagree as well.

  • Bill Hedges

    Saying businesses will just aborb increase added taxes is bogus. Bussiness make money or fold. Those that use this excuss purpose is to cover their personal belief. Oh I guess reducing employees and /or wages is a option to absorb cost. Pehaps that is a better choice so higher taxes can occur.

  • Bill Hedges

    Paddy power is a betting company. Has Iris ancentry. After last debate, it paid off bets for those who choice Obama to win Presidentcy. In other bets Paddy Power has paid off earliy on bets. AND, at time, WAS WRONG.

  • Paddy Power has been right far more times than it has been wrong Bill 😉 Although it is very presumtive of them to pay off bets on Obama to win, it’s highly likely Obama will win.

    In the last few weeks Obama is travelling to the states where it’s either a toss-up or went for Bush in 2004, McCain on the other hand is going to those states that Bush won to shore up his support.

    Since Obama is portrayed as the messiah, I’m guessing McCain doesn’t have a miracle worker on his team which he really needs at the moment.