Well, to no one’s surprise, I think John Kerry won again. But, while I’d like to say that the Senator knocked this final debate in Tempe, Arizona out of the park, frankly, he didn’t. In the early going, I thought he seemed tired and slightly discombobulated, and, at times when a concise rebuttal could have scored some serious points, Kerry’s answers often seemed more wordy and circuitous than necessary. On the other hand, I thought this was Dubya’s best performance – he was still smirking and guffawing too much, still distorting the facts, still running from his record, and still demonizing his opponent like the best of ‘em, but at least he seemed in full possession of his faculties this time around (perhaps the wire was working tonight.) I did think that Kerry warmed up in the middle third, but he lost focus again during the final questions (Native American blessings? Idears?) That being said, given the relative lack of drama tonight and the playoff baseball on FOX, I highly doubt this final debate will end up altering the current campaign dynamic much.
So there you have it, folks. Barring an October Surprise in the next three weeks, it now all comes down to the ground game, and — given what we’ve been hearing regarding voter registration, given the white-hot contempt towards Dubya held by Dems and the ambivalence with which fiscal conservatives and many veterans view this administration, and given the usual tendency of undecideds to break towards the challenger — turnout is a factor which John Kerry should win handily (barring Diebold shenanigans.) It ain’t over yet, to be sure, but right now I’d say that, despite tonight’s missed opportunities, John Kerry and John Edwards have put themselves in a solid position to win with their cumulative debate performance. The election is too close to call, definitely, but at this point I feel pretty confident our nation will make the right decision on Nov 2.