There is this imaginary line that the newer candidate to the national scene must pass in order to win over undecideds. It is called "the presidential test." To some of us here, this is silly but to millions of Americans it is very important. And their opinion and logic is every bit as valid as yours.
I am talking about 10% of voters, people who are undecided, people who care about and love this country and the issues they are facing but don't always have the time or inclination to follow politics with the level of scrutiny that most of you here do.
Here is what has been happening in the minds of these voters for months.
- I know McCain. He's not the guy he used to be but I'm leaning toward him. I don't really know Obama. Thus these voters have pretty much swung back and forth between lean McCain and undecided.
- I seemingly agree with Obama on most issues. This country is clearly on the wrong track and we need change but unless Obama proves to me that I should change horses, I'm still probably voting McCain. I need to feel comfortable.
- I would like to vote for Obama but not unless I think he is "presidential." I don't need others defining for me what "presidential" is, I will define it for myself thank you very much.
Being presidential to these voters is about several things. It's about substance, appearance, likability, and a personal connection. Reagan passed this test in 1980 with these kinds of voters, Clinton passed this test in 1992 with these kinds of voters and even Bush passed this test with these kinds of voters in 2000.
Up until Friday night, millions of these voters were leaning McCain. Then they watched the debate. On technical points and talking points, the debate was a draw. On the larger image and emotional issues at hand, the debate was a knockout victory for Obama. Obama passed the presidential test which means these voters will revert back to point 2 above, the issues. Now comfortable that Obama is presidential, these voters will make the decision based on right track/wrong track of the country. And so they have. Probably all of you are familiar with individuals who were undecided Friday night or leaning MCCain and they are now voting Obama. This is why.
The Obama campaign further showed me but showed millions of others that you don't want to play chess with them. Here, McCain allowed Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Fox News to basically destroy McCain's candidacy. Sarah Palin was an invaluable asset in this regard as well. It was George Foreman v. Muhammed Ali as Foreman just kept swinging wildly until there was nothing left in the gas tank as Ali knew 5 rounds in advance what was going to happen and when it was going to happen even if it appeared to the contrary. Obama knocked McCain out Friday night and I doubt Obama will let him up off the canvas.