Debates Help Obama Raise Our Comfort Level

Dem, like Reagan, used forums as a public vetting of an unfamiliar candidate
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2008 4:07 PM CDT
John McCain speaks as Barack Obama looks on.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama’s success in recent debates has less to do with out-talking his opponent than in letting US voters become familiar with him, the New York Times reports; Obama’s contest was as much to prove himself to an electorate uneasy with his novel candidacy. Polls show more confidence in Obama after the first two debates, while John McCain’s backfiring campaign strategy widened the gap.

In a sense, Obama has wrested the mantle of Ronald Reagan from the GOP. Reagan was in a similar position in 1980, but that election’s outcome was clear after a single debate late in the contest endeared Reagan to the electorate. “People will feel that they’ve seen enough and make their decision,” one analyst said of the current campaign.