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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Unchanging the Subject

As Ed noted last night, one of the surprises in the second presidential debate is that McCain did not pursue the “change the subject from the economy” strategy that his campaign had heavily telegraphed, and that his running-mate had already initiated in remarks about William Ayers and Obama’s “radicalism.” The names “Ayers” and “Wright” never came up.
Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith have a pretty thorough discussion of that development at Politico today. Statements by McCain staffers after the debate made it clear this was a strategic decision by the campaign, not some temporary tactic based on the debate format, or a “let Sarah do it” division of labor. They’ve concluded McCain can’t “change the subject” so long as the economic crisis is actually getting worse. Yesterday’s plunge in the Dow was probably the clincher.
We’ll see if the decision sticks should McCain’s poll ratings fare worse than the Dow going forward.

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