Despite the accepted wisdom that “superficialities” win American elections, “substance is in this year,” writes Michael Tomasky in the Guardian. Just look at the public response to the debates and the financial crisis: Without zingers or folksy winks, Barack Obama and Joe Biden won the debates in “literally every poll I've seen,” Tomasky notes. And Obama’s policy-driven response to Wall Street turmoil gave him a surge in the polls.
John McCain’s “stunt” of suspending his campaign and hammering Obama as “green and a hypocrite,” meanwhile, didn’t stick. Voters this year are focused on policy because their country is in decline thanks to the policies of the current administration, and “everyone outside of the hardcore conservatives knows this,” Tomasky writes. In coming weeks, the GOP will continue to smear Obama. But this time, it just might not work.