I really thought Barack Obama conceded way too many points to John McCain (see below). But overall, he was obviously strong on the nonverbal communication and, in general, succeeded at the minimum task in front of him: Not making any major blunders and staying in the debate the whole way. He also benefitted from the fact that the first 40 percent of the debate was about the economy.
McCain needed a win outright, with any tie or better going to Obama. McCain didn't do that, and so Obama clearly did what he needed to do. The next two debates should be even more favorable for the Democratic nominee.
A few follow-up items of note:
- The CNN post-election poll has Obama winning 51 percent to 38 percent, but cautions that Democrats are overrepresented in the sample.
- Chris Matthews of MSNBC compared McCain to former heavyweight champ Archie Moore, saying McCain looked "down there sort of crouched down. He's grumpy, he's angry."
- Before midnight, the McCain campaign already had a video up on YouTube showing Obama saying McCain is “right” or “absolutely correct” at several junctures.
- Results from the Democracy Corps' dial tests with a focus group showed that “McCain essentially held his ground in this debate, while Obama emerged with higher personal favorability and increased confidence in his ability to handle critical foreign policy and national security issues.”
- Oh, and Mr. Potty Mouth can be heard muttering “horseshit” under his breath when Obama pointed out McCain's resistance to talking with fellow NATO member Spain. We'll see if the media picks up on this.