Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Why Tomorrow's Debate is Crucial

At this point, a lot of people are getting tired of all the campaigning. We've got 3 weeks until the election, so both sides are naturally making one last push. Just think...after November 2, we won't have Dave Matthews and the Beastie Boys telling us who to vote for. Maybe then, Rolling Stone can start covering music again. Anyway...

In my opinion, the last debate will decide the election. Bush did a much better job in the second debate, and the polls are starting to return to where they were before Debate #1. For that reason, here are three observations I'm making about how the debate will affect the election.

1. If Kerry wins, he can still win the election. He'll have to win decisively to guarantee victory in November, because if he only has an edge, get ready for a repeat of 2000.

2. If Bush gets very aggressive and "outmuscles" Kerry to win the debate, he WILL win a second term. It won't be a McGovern vs. Nixon election, but it could be a Clinton vs. Dole election. All battlegrounds will turn red if this happens. You'll know if he wins tomorrow because the major networks will declare it a Bush victory, which takes an awful lot for them to do.

3. If the debate is an obvious draw, then the polls will not change. Bush will also win in this scenario unless Kerry pulls a last-minute ace in the hole, which I don't think he's capable of.

Now the question becomes: What can each candidate do to win?

Sen. Kerry: Kerry has to stop repeating himself. Certain portions of his responses in Debate #2 were identical to Debate #1, and it felt like an insult to my intelligence. He even repeated one of his better lines ("I made a mistake in how I talked about the war...") from the first debate, effectively killing its usefulness. Bush is using the line, "He can run, but he can't hide," to his advantage because it's simple and it makes a point about his record. In short for Kerry: Less wordy, more fresh.

Pres. Bush: Bush needs to get off the defensive. I think he's on his way to doing that because of his new catchphrase (see above), but he's still not as aggressive as Kerry. It's really not that hard to debate against Kerry, though; all you have to do is put him on the defensive. This is why Kerry is a better politician when he's trying to come from behind: When he's defending himself, he feels vulnerable and weak; therefore, he becomes vulnerable and weak. In short for Bush: Wear blue tie, think red tie.

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