On today’s American Morning, CNN’s Susanne Malveaux conducted the obvious ultimate person-on-the-street story, reported from the current Ground Zero of the American Political Media: Oxford, Mississippi. What do you think, she asked various species of POS, about the potential of John McCain not showing up to debate tonight?

“The consensus in the hometown of Ole Miss: sheer disbelief,” Malveaux declared, a note of melodrama in her voice. Here’s the evidence of that disbelief, courtesy of various Ole Miss street-people:

“We were just horrified.”

“It was a shock. It was like getting kicked in the stomach to find out that McCain doesn’t want to show.”

“He did hurt my feelings yesterday.”

And, finally, the adorably sassy Anne Morgan, a 9-year-old from Oxford, predicting the political fallout of a missed debate for Candidate McCain: “He’s gonna lose the state’s votes—half of ‘em, anyway.”

Well. Morgan will be relieved to know that McCain’s campaign just announced: the GOP nominee is Oxford-bound! The debate’s on! Students, street people, and visiting media of Ole Miss, rejoice!

Update: The NRO’s Rich Lowry, via Michael Calderone, reports that:

One side effect of McCain’s debate gambit is, I’m told, that everyone at Ole Miss now hates him. It will make for a very hostile audience tonight among those students and faculty attending. He might have to apologize for creating the uncertainty or make some explanation up front, which is never ideal.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.