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 2008 Election:  McCain's book Obama's book Biden's book Palin's booklet Keyes' book Nader's book Barr's book      2008   Debates 

2008 presidential race

2009 State of the Union speech
Presidential Debates: Third Obama-McCain Debate - Second Obama-McCain Debate - V.P. debate, Biden vs. Palin - First Obama-McCain Debate
Vice Presidential background materials:

Gov. Sarah Palin: Booklet - Debate - Profile - Wasilla - Governor
Sen. Joe Biden: Bio - Profile - Debates
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McCain-Obama joint appearances:
Aug.16 -Jul.12 -Jun.28 -
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2008 Democratic primary debates
Apr.16 -Apr.13 -Feb.26 -Feb.21 -Feb.11 -Jan.31 -Jan.28 -Jan.21 -Jan.15 -Jan.5
2008 Republican primary debates
Feb.7 -Jan.30 -Jan.28 -Jan.24 -Jan.10 -Jan.6 -Jan.5
2008 Green primary debates
Feb.3 -Jan.13
2007 Republican primary debates
Dec.22 -Dec.12 -Dec.9 -Nov.28 -Oct.21 -Oct.9 -Sep.27 -Sep.17 -Sep.5 -Aug.5 -Jun.5 -May 15 -May 3
2007 Democratic primary debates
Dec.22 -Dec.13 -Dec.4 -Dec.1 -Nov.15 -Oct.30 -Sep.26 -Sep.20 -Sep.13 -Sep.9 -Aug.19 -Aug.9 -Aug.7 -Jul.23 -Jun.28 -Jun.3 -Apr.26 -Apr.10

Excerpts from Books by and about 2008 candidates
Sen. John McCain (R, AZ)
Why Courage Matters
Sen. Barack Obama(D, IL)
Dreams From My Father
Sen. Joe Biden (D, DE)
Promises to Keep
Gov. Sarah Palin (R, AK)
New Energy for Alaska
Rep. Bob Barr (L)
The Meaning of IS
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (G)
Green Party Debate
Ralph Nader (I)
The Good Fight
Alan Keyes (NAIP)
Our Character, Our Future

Sen. Hillary Clinton
It Takes A Village
Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Gov. Mike Huckabee
Character Makes A Difference
Amb. Alan Keyes
Our Character, Our Future
Rep. Ron Paul
Freedom Under Siege
Gov. Mitt Romney

(click a book cover for excerpts and a review or other books by or about the presidency from

2008 third presidential debate, John McCain vs. Barack Obama, at Hofstra University in New York

      Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama faced off at Hofstra University on Oct. 15th, 2008, in their last debate before Election Day. Bob Schieffer of CBS News was the moderator, for the third and last presidential debate of 2008, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

      The subject was domestic policy. The rules were: the hour-and-a-half was divided into nine-minute segments. The moderator asked a question at the beginning of each segment. Each candidate then had two minutes to respond, and then a discussion would follow.

      With only 19 days until the election, McCain needed a "knockout" in order to overturn Obama's advantage because of the financial crisis, dissatisfaction with the Iraq War, and McCain's association with Pres. Bush on both of those dominant issues. While McCain did well in this debate, he did not score the necessary "knockout". Obama succeeded in this debate in maintaining his image of calm under pressure; of being McCain's equal; and of allaying voter apprehension about his qualifications for the presidency. Therefore the election will be Obama's to win or lose in the next 19 days.

      However, winning and losing in the next 19 days remains highly unpredictable. And we mean "unpredictable" in its most literal sense. As of today, Obama is ahead by 10 points in the polls (while earlier in the week he was ahead by only 5 points). But this election has two major factors that make the election outcome very difficult to predict: one factor in favor of McCain and the other factor in favor of Obama.

      The first factor, in McCain's favor, is known as "the Bradley effect". The term "Bradley effect" comes from the 1982 election, when Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, narrowly lost his reelection despite polls that showed a lead. The theory behind the "Bradley effect" is that some white voters will tell pollsters that they plan to vote for a black candidate, because they do not want to appear to be racist in the presence of another person. But once in the privacy of the voting booth, some white voters will vote against the black candidate on racist grounds. The "Bradley effect" accounted for about a 3% to 5% error in the polls in the 2006 Senate election losses of Harold Ford (D, TN) and Michael Steele (R, MD), both black candidates who were slightly ahead in the polls immediately prior to election day, but both of whom lost to their white opponents. Obviously, the "Bradley effect" has never been tested in a presidential election -- hence how strongly it affects the poll numbers is unpredictable.

      The second factor, in Obama's favor, is determined by how pollsters construct polling results. Pollsters want their polling results to be as accurate as possible in predicting the actual election results (as opposed to actually reporting how many people tell them they will vote for one candidate or the other). Hence pollsters routinely "weight" their polling data by demographic classes of voters. For example, pollsters all know that people aged 65 and over vote very consistently at high rates in every election, so they weight their poll responses accordingly highly. On the other hand, people aged under 30 vote in elections at rates around 10% (i.e., only one in ten young people actually vote); hence their responses to polls is accordingly weighted very low. In other words, pollsters intentionally discount responses from younger people compared to older people, so that their weighted data more accurately reflects the likelihood of each respondent actually voting. The same logic applies to a lesser extent to black voters vs. white voters, since black voters have a lower turnout rate in most elections than do white voters.

      How does that play into Obama's favor? Well, Obama appeals very heavily to young voters and to black voters. Pollsters discount poll responses from young voters and black voters. Therefore, if voter turnout among those young voters and black voters is at higher rates than the pollsters account for, the polling numbers will be lower for Obama than the actual election results. Of course, pollsters recognize that in this election, voter turnout for young voters and black voters will likely be high -- but HOW high? Will young people vote at a rate of 20%? 30%? Or what? Pollsters have to guess -- and that means their predictions are based partially on guessing. Pollsters in a similar situation in the 2000 Minnesota gubernatorial race showed Jesse Ventura behind in the polls right up until election day. But Jesse became Governor Ventura because he appealed strongly to young voters, whose turnout was higher than the pollsters predicted.

      In summary, these two opposing factors make predicting this election more guesswork than science. We'd give Obama the edge because of the underlying "three strikes" against McCain (economy, Iraq, and Bush). But any Democrat would have that edge. We DON'T give Obama the edge just because he's ahead in the polls today. So enjoy the show -- it'll be unknown until late in the evening on Nov. 4th!

--Jesse Gordon,, Oct. 16, 2008
    Click on a participant to pop-up their full list of quotations
    from 2008 third presidential debate, in New York (number of quotes indicated):
  • Barack Obama (19)
  • John McCain (23)
    OR click on an issue category below for a subset.
   Barack Obama: No litmus test; nominate to Court based on their fairness.
   Barack Obama: Opposed born-alive treatment law because it was already law.
   John McCain: Iíve never imposed a litmus test on Supreme Court nominees.
   John McCain: Obama voted no on partial-birth ban & born-alive treatment.
Budget & Economy
   Barack Obama: Fundamentals were weak BEFORE crisis; focus on middle class.
   Barack Obama: Make government fiscally responsible & live within budget.
   John McCain: Americans are innocent victims of Wall Street greed.
   John McCain: $300B to buy up home mortgages; put a floor under it.
   John McCain: FactCheck: $300B mortgage plan shifts burden to taxpayers.
Civil Rights
   John McCain: Equal pay for equal work case was a trial lawyerís dream.
   John McCain: FactCheck: Pay discrimination still subject to time limits.
   Barack Obama: We both cut taxes; but McCain offers $200B to corporations.
   Barack Obama: No capital gains tax on earnings under $250K.
   John McCain: Cut taxes for small business so they can thrive.
   Barack Obama: I doubled charter schools in Illinois; but no vouchers.
   Barack Obama: Vouchers donít solve the problems of our schools.
   Barack Obama: FactCheck: McCain for national reforms & also DC vouchers.
   John McCain: Achieved equality in schools; but failing schools donít help.
   John McCain: Vouchers in DC work; parents wait in line for them.
Energy & Oil
   Barack Obama: Letís build a fuel-efficient car in America, not abroad.
   Barack Obama: Ten years to eliminate dependence on foreign oil.
   John McCain: Energy independence will create millions of jobs.
   John McCain: Use alternative energy, including nuclear, coal, gas, solar.
Free Trade
   Barack Obama: We export only 4,000 cars to Korea; thatís not free trade!.
   John McCain: Free trade with Colombia is something thatís a no-brainer.
Government Reform
   John McCain: Would fight for line-item veto, and veto pork.
Health Care
   Barack Obama: Zero fines & no mandate for small business.
   Barack Obama: Reduce premiums and uninsured get same coverage as Congress.
   John McCain: Get healthcare records online to reduce costs.
   John McCain: Mandated heath insurance is Big Government at its best.
   John McCain: 50% credit for businesses who provide employees insurance.
   Barack Obama: Solution to financial crisis is more job creation.
Principles & Values
   Barack Obama: Bill Ayers is not & will not be involved with my campaign.
   Barack Obama: My associates are Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker, & Sen. Lugar.
   Barack Obama: Biden has knowledge, long career, and cares.
   Barack Obama: FactCheck: Spoke at ACORN events, as well as court case.
   John McCain: I am not President Bush; so donít run against him!.
   John McCain: Obama broke his word on public campaign financing.
   John McCain: People should know about Obama connection to ACORN & Ayers.
   John McCain: Palin is a reformer and a role model.
War & Peace
   John McCain: Bidenís plan to partition Iraq was a cockamamie idea.
   John McCain: FactCheck: Bidenís plan decentralized Iraq; not 3 countries.

The above quotations are from 2008 third presidential debate, John McCain vs. Barack Obama, at Hofstra University in New York.

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