In-a-flap Obama turns to Big Bird


Critics say the use of Big Bird in campaign ads is a sign of Democratic desperation

The first opinion polls after the big debate have been published, and they make uncomfortable reading for President Obama.

There's no question that a huge majority thought he lost the debate with Mitt Romney, lost it clearly and badly. Let's say it again: it was the biggest defeat in the history of these debates.

The question now is whether Mr Obama's failure could cost him the White House.

The opinion polls right now do suggest that. The most dramatic is Pew, which gives Mr Romney a four point lead - last month they found Mr Obama had an eight-point lead.

If you don't trust such huge swings, Gallup gives Mr Romney 49% to Mr Obama's 47% among likely voters, but Mr Obama is leading in the same poll among registered voters.

Rasmussen has them level pegging on 46% among registered voters, noting sensibly, "since last week's debate, the numbers have shifted somewhat in Romney's direction, but even that change has been fairly modest".

Big Bird desperation?

All the usual cautionary words about polls and single events in election campaigns are worth restating:

Polls are only snapshots of a moment. What matters is a trend, not a single figure. If a poll's margin of error is 3%, a lead of 3% is fairly meaningless. Look at the difference between voters, likely voters and registered voters.

Then look at the swing states and the electoral college. There things aren't so grim for Mr Obama.

Still some, like Andrew Sullivan, are drawing dramatic conclusions from President Obama's drubbing. His column is headed: "Did Obama just throw the entire election away?"

Some accuse him of freaking out, but his fear reflects the anger and bewilderment of many Democrats.

Others wonder whether using Big Bird in an ad is a sign of Democratic desperation. That is rather over the top too: it's not chicken to run an internet advert that gets greater exposure because it's funny and the sort of thing people talk and tweet about.

It is not the main thrust of the Obama campaign's attack on Mr Romney: the main attack is that the Republican candidate is a liar.

The last deciders

They have to hit hard. My instinct is that the debate does matter. Think about who this is about.

There are now very few people left to be swayed. When you think about it, swing voters are very curious people. After months of the candidates insisting they have two very different visions of America, these voters still can't decide between two radically different ideologies.

So what matters to them must be character. If you are judging the candidates purely on the debate, purely on who you would want to argue your case if you were on death row, there wasn't much doubt who showed the most conviction and passion.

The Obama campaign accused Mr Romney of merely having a good "performance". But for swing voters, performance matters.

This time next week, the president will have a lot to prove.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    As the Fiscal Conservatives hypocrites talk Deficit Reduction reh reh reh

    and want bigger Tax Cuts for Rich to big up their Sponsors Pockets

    and want More Military Spending because you can never have enough

    are they taking the pea and want to raid the barn of corn all over again

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    I'm changing my Tax Code to NT

    Here's a challenge for mathematically challenged

    Liar Liar Pants On Fire says he'll reduce tax codes by 20%

    1. what is 20% of
    (a) 10% (b) 15% (c) 25% (d) 28% (e) 33% (f) 35% Tax Rates?

    2. Is 7% reduction in tax rates for someone earning $500,000
    (a) less than, (b) more than or (c) equal to
    3% reduction in rates for someone earning $50,000

    No asking a Chinaman

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    I heard Romney vociferously arguing he was "pro choice" in his debate for Mass. Governorship. Just as vociferously as he now argues he is anti-choice. It seems his supporters think Romney's flip flopping is a strength. He will cut taxes, he will not cut taxes if it raises the deficit. He thinks 47% are spongers, he doesn't think 47% are spongers. Etch-A-Sketch personified.

  • Comment number 230.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    226. AndreaNY "they didn't change the tax code..."

    Don't you think that is because the Republicans wouldn't allow any change. Just like Romney you'll make any charge do matter how it is contradicted by the information freely available for those who care to look.


Comments 5 of 233



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