No knockouts, no memorable zingers. McCain on points.
McCain was able to pull it into his turf. Obama did not pounce enough when given the chance.
Obama showed he was tough, informed, etc. Remember that a lot of people (not bloggers and commenters) are just tuning in, and Obama still has to introduce himself to a lot of voters. A red zone for Obama is “angry black man.” He can’t go there; fairly or not, he can’t go there. So, he may have to risk being too cool, or not combative enough. Because if he can, in any way, remotely be painted as Al Sharpton, then it’s all over.
On these debates, the post-debate spin, the SNL skits (for example) can count for more than the debate itself. So, if, for example, SNL runs a skit portraying McCain as a mean, grumpy, contemptuous old guy, “Obama does not understand,” then that could change things.
Otherwise, McCain on points.
Update: I keep pondering this, and while I may be wholly biased by my desire to make it come out well for my guy, I’m thinking more and more about how the two candidates looked to the 100 million voters who are just starting to pay attention. If Obama’s mission was to present himself as responsible, dignified-but-tough, presidential, intelligent, informed, etc., then he did just that. A rope-a-dope strategy? Let McCain throw all his punches, while outlasting him, looking him in the eye, and being presidential? We’ll see what the polls says.
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.
Frankly, those numbers surprise me. But, maybe they reflect something like the strategy (or is it a “tactic?”) I noted above.
Update 3: Frank Luntz panel on Fox News(!) gives edge to Obama: