Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

McCain moves to postpone first debate

September 24th, 2008, 3:31pm by Sam Wang


This is weird. John McCain wants to suspend his campaign and postpone the first debate. His stated reason is a desire to focus on the financial crisis. On substantive grounds, this reason doesn’t make sense. He’s been on the campaign trail. All the legislative action is back in Washington, and is being handled by the Congressional leadership, especially Senator Dodd and Representative Frank. A better move might have been to use the debate to discuss the crisis.

Today the McCain campaign also convened a conference call to dismiss a recent Washington Post-ABC poll showing Obama ahead by 9% as an outlier. Is this the real reason for suspending the campaign? If so, it might have been less extreme to simply mention the opposite extreme poll, which gives McCain a lead of 2%. The most recent data from organizations that polled Sept. 17-23 (9 polls) give a median national margin of Obama leading by 4.0 +/- 1.2%.

Tags: 2008 Election

9 Comments so far ↓

  • David

    Sam, I think you should be concerned. If McCain can postpone these debates for the crisis, why can’t Bush postpone the election too?

    Forget the constitution, what will happen to your blog?!?

    You are witnessing the weirdest and craziest presidential election in the history of this country. Just wait until the recount starts…

  • KenW.

    The really telling part of this is that Obama called him at 8:00 am to suggest a joint statement and McCain called him in the afternoon giving the imppression that a joint statement would occur.

    About an hour later McCain jumped the gun and made his grand-standing individual statement.

    Hmmm, last week the Fundamentals of the economy were sound and this week there’s a crisis….

  • Independent

    I have some sympathy for McCain. He clearly sees foreign policy and national security as his strong suit, and hates the idea of the financial crisis casting a shadow over the first debate. But, there’s something else. When a hurricane threatened New Orleans, McCain was ready to avoid his party’s convention. As the financial crisis heats up, he wants to avoid the first debate. Is McCain, at some level, having second thoughts about the rigors and responsibility of the presidency?

  • Sam Wang

    I don’t really expect Bush to do anything quite so rash.

    However, a more recent proposal from Team McCain is fascinating: have the debate on October 2nd, the date of the Biden-Palin debate, which would then be…rescheduled. (For November 5th perhaps?)

    I find today’s developments to be completely bizarre. My strong intuition is that the campaign is basically over. I may look back on this week as the moment in the campaign when the Meta-Analysis got a lot less interesting.

  • Michael

    I think too that they’re trying to kill the VP debate. Or maybe something came up? Like a hair appointment? Those can be impossible to reschedule. Maybe he has a health issue?

  • David

    Survey USA has polling out already – 50%, continue as planned, 36%, continue but change topic to economy; 10% postpone. Letterman was on a rant – if you can’t do it, where is your second string quarterback? Why not call in Gov. Palin to campaign in his abscence? Then he found out that he’d been stiffed not for an urgent flight to NY, but – wait for it – live feed of Sen. McCain getting makeup for a Katie Couric on putting country First. Seriously, I’m not smart enough to make this stuff up. Oh, and ABC confirms that the plan offered by Sen. Mccain is reschedule the 1st debate to the VP night, and postpone that to an unspecified time – like November 82nd.

  • Frank

    Sam, I disagree with you that your analysis just got less interesting. I won’t be confident until McCain drops below 220, which is around Kerry’s lowest point in this period in the analysis last time. Even though McCain is presumably turning off “undecideds” in this continuing display of volatility and opportunism, he does have the unfortunate political advantage of race. So no, I’m not less interested in the analysis.

  • rob

    I can’t disagrree more with many of the comments. From what I hear on various news programs, Congressmen of both parties are saying this is the way McCain is. He considers himself a Senator first and a candidate second and at this time he probably believes he should be in Washington as a Senator. It’s up to debate whether this is the right or wrong thing to do…

  • BB

    My understanding is the bailout legislation HAS to be handled by Dodd in the Senate and Frank in the House. McCain isn’t on the committee writing the bill.
    My take: political grandstanding.

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