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DEBATE PREVIEW….Karen Tumulty notes that 9 out of 10 people are now dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States:

With the nation in that frame of mind, it’s hard to believe that talking about Obama’s associations with a figure from the 1960s is going to gain McCain much ground. Nor will talking about earmarks, or recycling his stump speech jokes about how the federal government is studying the DNA of bears. These items aren’t even a rounding error in the huge federal budget, and sound even smaller in the wake of last week’s $700-billion bailout package. And all this is even before most Americans have taken a look at the quarterly statements they will be receiving in coming days that show just how badly their 401(k)s and other investments have been hit.

Two notes. First, what’s the deal with the 9% of the country that apparently thinks we’re doing OK? Did they not understand the question? Second, as dumb as it is, my guess is that McCain will talk about Ayers and Jeremiah Wright and bear DNA regardless. It’s possible that there was never any winning strategy for McCain in the first place, but the strategy he ended up with has nonetheless been almost astonishingly bad. It’s like he just put the last few winning Republican campaigns in a blender and decided to repeat them. Neither he nor Steve Schmidt seem to understand that the Republican base just isn’t what it used to be.

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