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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Some of the Early Takes on the Debate

Here are some of the early reviews of the performances of the two candidates last night:

Halperin gives Obama an A- and McCain a B-.  He said of Obama, “Polished, confident, focused. Fully prepared, and able to convey a real depth of knowledge on nearly every issue.”  About McCain, he observed, “Cluttered, jumpy, and often muddled. Keenly aware of the grand, grave occasion, McCain wavered between respectful and domineering, and ended up awkward and edgy.”

Chuck Todd observed, “I suspect that only the most partisan McCain supporters wouldn’t say Obama looked as presidential as McCain . . . . There are some who believe a “draw” is better for the candidate perceived to be ahead. If that’s the case, then the polls will continue their Obama drift. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the polls don’t move much in either direction because neither candidate gave a reason why voters ought to stop listening and make their decision now.”

Marc Ambinder observed, “The press will probably conclude that McCain did not fundamentally change impressions tonight.  And that Obama held his own.”

Andrew Sullivan said, “My main stylistic impression was that Obama was crisper than usual, sharper, and more aggressive than in his debates with Clinton.”

Ben Smith summed it up, “But people tuning into the race now now think of McCain as an experienced hand, and Obama as a newcomer. Obama more than held his own, and McCain failed to expose him — as he tried — as out of his depth.”

But whatever the pundits say, the CW comes from the people, and as bandied about frequently already, CBS News and Knowledge Networks did an instant poll of 500 uncommitted voters, and it said that Obama won:

Forty percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-two percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-eight percent saw it as a draw.

Forty-six percent of uncommitted voters said their opinion of Obama got better tonight.

I personally thought that it was a draw, but given that this was McCain’s strong suit, and Obama still looked like a plausible alternative, Obama won. He won simply because McCain could not dominate him. McCain needed a game changer, and he didn’t get it. Obama was confident, knowledgeable, and comfortable with the subject matter, and that’s everything he needed to do.


  1. and today the news channels are reiterating that fact.  Anyone tuning in to find out why McCain has the measurably better chops that he needs to sway them didn’t find it there.  He didn’t do horribly, but he had to do good, but the best he did was “not bad”.

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