While everyone surmises how Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's "comeback" during the vice-presidential debate will affect the race — is it a comeback if expectations were rock bottom? — let's not get ahead of ourselves.
First, the only certainty to draw from last night's debate is that Tina Fey will be on this weekend's edition of Saturday Night Live. And it will be funny.
Second, while some conservative pundits thought Palin did one heck of a job last night, it seems that voters — you know, the people who decide the election — thought Biden was the winner. Say it ain't so? According to a CNN post-debate poll, "51 percent of people watching said Biden did the best job, while 36 percent gave the nod to Palin." The numbers only get worse from there.
A Survey USA poll released this afternoon says Florida voters thought Palin had a strong performance but Biden was the "clear winner." A Rasmussen Reports poll released today says Obama leads McCain 51 percent to 44 percent. And at the "poll of polls," Pollster.com, a Web site which calculates trends from every available poll, Barack Obama has his biggest overall lead of the election — with an average 6 point margin over Sen. John McCain.
That's why, despite all the spin, it makes me happy that some people still call it like they see it. Eric Earling at Sound Politics writes:
The point is that bloggers need to be able to call a spade a spade. And in this case, raising alarm bells about the McCain campaign is a prudent thing to do.
I don't want McCain to lose. I sure don't want Barack Obama in the Oval Office with a Democratic Congress down Pennsylvania Avenue. Nevertheless, it would be a waste of all our time not to raise a flag of warning.
When this campaign was all about Obama, McCain had hope. With this campaign all about the economy, McCain doesn't. In part because of the reflex of voters after eight years of a Republican in the White House, in part because McCain can't project a coherent, stable message on the economy (rants about earmarks not actually doing much with most voters on that score). It is what it is.
Stalwart conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer takes it one step further. He calls the election for Obama. Money quote:
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said of Franklin Roosevelt that he had a "second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament." Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self-definition — do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.
Palin has arguably helped McCain big and hurt McCain big. But for all the hype surrounding her, it's important to remember: Sarah Palin isn't running for president. John McCain is. And this election will ultimately be a judgment of McCain and Obama — not Palin.