In a CNN survey, 54% questioned concluded that Obama won; while a mere 30% say that McCain came out on top. Before the poll, 60% held a favorable opinion of the Illinois senator, and after, this share increased to 64%. 51% had a favorable view of McCain both before and after the debate.
65% said Obama was the more likeable candidate during the event, with only 28% considering McCain more likeable. The poll figures continued to indicate Obama’s successes: 57% believed Obama was more intelligent, with only 25% for McCain. And 60% felt Obama articulated his opinions more clearly with only 30% going to McCain.
It appears that as the economic outlook deteriorates, Obama’s prospects improve. The public’s faith in McCain’s economic plan – and more fundamentally, his understanding of the issues and lack of conviction in presenting them – mean that the current financial crisis is working in Obama’s favor.
Months back, before the US financial system was sent into a tailspin, polls showed Obama only leading by only a few points, and even at times tied with McCain.
“There are three things driving this election right now: the economy, the economy and the economy,” said Clay Richards, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Not surprisingly, the debates opened up with the economy as issue number one when a concerned citizen asking how each candidate would work to protect retired and older US citizens and their savings.
The fact is, one economic approach to help reinvigorate the US economy is tax cuts to the companies and firms that could then hire more and conduct more business. While the Bush regime has seen more downs than ups, this type of tax cuts is something that Bush did after September 11th, which worked.
Obama’s populist approach – “a middle class tax cut to 95% of working Americans” – is attractive to most people. But like the recent economic stimulus package the US government enacted earlier this year, such tax cuts are not trickle-down, payback investments as corporate cuts would be.
That’s not to say that McCain’s argument that tax cuts for the richest of rich should be in order. His case that this is taking away from the “American dream” is ludicrous – he still believes that if you earn less than $5 million a year you cannot be rich. Nevertheless, this is a debate for the American people, not economists, and people will vote for whomever appeals to their needs best.
Both McCain and Obama echoed that they had each been warning the Treasury and the Fed of the impending financial crisis, and both said the other contributed to the mess.
McCain made a few attacks on Obama, specifically on his spending plan and tax cuts. McCain rightly noted our Social Security system is flawed but right as he was about to explain that he jumped straight in to his energy policy.
Defense, health care, and education were also topics addressed. McCain even announced his plans to reduce defense spending, which was probably a good move, as he is widely known for his militaristic support. But in that same sentence, he noted he wanted spending freezes on everything except defense.
McCain promised action for citizens with no health care, while Obama noted that Medicare (and Social Security) both had to be addressed right away. McCain said health care should be a responsibility, while Obama called it a right. McCain said “Social Security’s not that tough”. Obama said that debt starts with Washington, and said that the government must set an example.
On environmental issues, McCain endorsed nuclear power – not something that will win over voters that care about the environment. Obama supports solar, wind, geothermal, and also nuclear – but only as one element of it.
Assuming the CNN poll figures are accurate, and that the financial crisis continues over the next month, which it will, it appears that Obama could very well be headed to the White House.
Alfredo Neuman, EconomyWatch.com