by dday

The snap polls are coming in for Barack Obama in much the same numbers that they did in the first two debates. CNN has it 58-31 for Obama. CBS' poll is similar. That's because Obama came out, in the same way as the other debates, with the same even keel. And also, the fundamentals of the race have crashed on McCain and Republicans. All Obama has to say is that McCain supports the same policies as George Bush and everyone gets knocked over as if with a feather. McCain can make ideological arguments about big government and higher taxes and liberal ideas all he wants, but the public has thoroughly rejected them. Just completely. Obama's specifics are pretty cautious and circumscribed and nuanced and I don't agree with all of them. But he doesn't have the weight of party identification against him. Given the Bush/Republican known they are more than willing to grasp the unknown.

People know one thing that can't be dislodged from their minds - Republican governance has been a total failure. A 90-minute debate isn't going to change any of that.

And staying focused like a laser on the issues about which Americans clearly care the most helped as well. This is the anti-smear campaign no matter how much the fever swamps want it. The Ayers question in this debate - which I rightly called as Bob Schieffer's wet kiss to McCain - was a microcosm of the campaign. McCain wanted to simultaneously take the high road and the low road. He tried some ju-jitsu by forcing Obama to distance himself from John Lewis' remarks. No sale, Obama rightly brought up the impetus for the remarks - the hateful rhetoric coming from McCain/Palin rallies. Then McCain shifted into a backlash-type defense of his supporters. Obama flicked it off, and was finishing up the question, and McCain sensed he was losing his moment, and cut off Obama mid-sentence to get in his licks about Bill Ayers and ACORN, in kind of an erratic way. It was a meandering exchange, was highly negative and misleading, and it ended with Obama saying that making Bill Ayers the centerpiece of his campaign says a lot more about McCain than anyone else.

John McCain is a terrible candidate and that is the perfect example. But even if he was a stellar, superior candidate, I just don't think it would matter. People have rendered their verdict on conservatism.