Stephanopoulos: Biden Strategy Edges Palin Style

By Jennifer Parker

Oct 3, 2008 8:04am

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports: Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin beat expectations last night and she may have gone a long way in stopping the slide in her souring poll numbers.

She didn’t make any huge mistakes and didn’t have any "deer in the headlights" moments. Her campaign has to be happy with her performance.

But Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden did something even more important. He executed the core strategy of the Biden-Obama campaign — taking the fight to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, and tying him to President Bush. Biden did that in every single answer last night.

Palin was smiling, upbeat, and confident last night. But it came at a time when people are hurting. Her answer to Biden’s attacks on McCain and Bush was to argue that the Delaware senator was looking to the past. But what she did not do effectively last night is explain how going forward McCain and Palin would be different — a missed opportunity.

This debate last night probably didn’t move many people to switch their votes. It likely only solidified partisan leanings and most of the instant polls that came in last night had a generally partisan response to the debate. If you came in liking Biden you thought he won, and if you came in liking Palin you thought she won.

However for the McCain-Palin campaign: that’s the problem. This race is solidifying in a trajectory that goes against McCain.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has the edge in most national and battleground state polls.

In a stunning move yesterday, the McCain campaign pulled out of the key battleground state of Michigan. With 17 electoral votes up for grabs, it was a key target for McCain to turn from blue to red.

Going forward, McCain is really only playing in a couple of Democratic states like Wisconsin, maybe New Hampshire, and maybe Minnesota. To contrast that, Obama is playing in a host of Republican states, and is ahead in states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa. What this means right now is that Obama and Biden have far more states in play and McCain’s only hope is to recreate the 2004 wins by President George Bush. If Obama and Biden can take away electorally rich states like Ohio and Florida, and the three southwestern states, they will be on the path toward victory.

McCain has only two debates left to change the minds of voters. If he’s going to win, he’s got to get the financial crisis behind him. During the final debates McCain must open up a new line of attack against Obama and create a new playing field.    

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