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October 15 McCain Obama Debate Wrap-up

Obama won:

A majority of debate watchers think Sen. Barack Obama won the third and final presidential debate, according to a national poll conducted right afterward.

Fifty-eight percent of debate watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Democratic candidate Obama did the best job in the debate, with 31 percent saying Republican Sen. John McCain performed best.

The poll also suggests that debate watchers' favorable opinion of Obama rose slightly during the debate, from 63 percent at the start to 66 percent at the end. The poll indicates that McCain's favorables dropped slightly, from 51 percent to 49 percent.

The economy was the dominant issue of the debate, and 59 percent of debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job handling the economy, 24 points ahead of McCain.

During the debate, McCain attacked Obama's stance on taxes, accusing Obama of seeking tax increases that would "spread the wealth around." But by 15 points, 56 percent to 41 percent, debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job on taxes. By a 2-1 margin, 62 percent to 31 percent, debate watchers said Obama would do a better job on health care.

Sixty-six percent of debate watchers said Obama more clearly expressed his views, with 25 percent saying McCain was more clear about his views.

By 23 points, those polled said Obama was the stronger leader during the debate. By 48 points, they said Obama was more likeable.

McCain won in two categories. Eighty percent of debate watchers polled said McCain spent more time attacking his opponent, with seven percent saying Obama was more on the attack. Fifty-four percent said McCain seemed more like a typical politician during the debate, with 35 percent saying Obama acted more like a typical politician.

Nice job, Senator McCain.

Sarcasm aside, it was a bad day to come out swinging. Although I thought McCain did better tonight than in the other two debates, it was a bad day to be the angry, indignant old white guy. Not on a day when many Americans lost 5-10% of the value of their retirement assets held in U.S. stocks.

Update: New York Times:

Senator John McCain was in a groove early in the presidential debate on Wednesday night, looking Senator Barack Obama in the eye and chiding him over taxes, over his backbone in standing up to Democrats and over the Obama campaign's portrayal of Mr. McCain as the second coming of George W. Bush.

It looked like Mr. McCain might, just might, raise the level of his game in throwing Mr. Obama off his -- Mr. McCain's essential goal 20 days before the election, as he seeks a comeback in the face of declining poll numbers in battlegrounds like Pennsylvania and Virginia.

But then Mr. McCain began to undercut his own effort to paint Mr. Obama as just another negative politician. Mr. McCain grew angry as he attacked Mr. Obama over his ties to William Ayers, the Chicago professor who helped found the Weather Underground terrorism group. Suddenly, Mr. McCain was no longer gaining ground by showing command on the top issue for voters, the economy; he was turning tetchy over a 1960s radical.

"The facts are facts and records are records," Mr. McCain said, refusing to let the issue go. "He had a long association with him -- it's the fact that all, all of the details need to be known about." A few breaths later, as part of the same answer, Mr. McCain returned to the economy and the importance of creating jobs.

It seemed as if Mr. McCain was veering from one hot button to another, pressing them all, hoping to goad Mr. Obama into an outburst or a mistake that would alter the shape of the race in its last three weeks.

But for a punch to make a difference, the punch needs to do something to its target -- to rattle, to wound, or (best of all) cause the opponent to counterpunch in a self-defeating way.

If Mr. Obama, on the defensive, showed a bit more vim, vigor and vinegar than he had in the previous debates, he also remained calm, cool and collected for the most part -- showing survival skills that he learned in his brutal 16-month battle for the nomination against a tough inside fighter, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. That is all Mr. Obama really needed to do to freeze the dynamics of the campaign in place during the debate -- dynamics that by and large favor him.

Word. Doing rounds with Clinton helped Barack tremendously. He was such a solid winner tonight. I was glad to see the angry McCain emerge at last, and Obama was O-So ready for him. He laughed at McCain and got away with it, emerging a solid winner in the poll that followed.

Obama, baby, Obama!

  • Transcript of tonight's debate: Link

Update: CBS News polling of uncommitted voters has Obama as the clear winner as well...


Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight's debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-five percent saw the debate as a draw.

More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on the issue; after, sixty-eight percent said so. Twenty-seven percent trusted McCain to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.

Sixty-four percent think Obama will raise their taxes, while fifty percent think McCain will.

Before the debate, fifty-four percent thought Obama shared their values. That percentage rose to sixty-four percent after the debate. For McCain, fifty-two percent thought he shared their values before the debate, and fifty-five percent thought so afterwards.

Before the debate, fifty percent said they trusted Obama to handle a crisis; that rose to sixty-three percent afterwards. More uncommitted voters trusted McCain on this - seventy-eight percent before the debate, eighty-two percent after the debate.

But more trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about the economy. Before the debate, fifty-four percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama to make the right decisions about the economy; after, sixty-five percent said that. Before, thirty-eight percent trusted McCain to do so, and forty-eight percent did after the debate.

Before the debate, sixty-six percent thought Obama understands voters' needs and problems; that rose to seventy-six percent after the debate. For McCain, thirty-six percent felt he understands voters' needs before the debate, and forty-eight percent thought so afterwards.

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Comments (10)


I just wanted to comment on the fact that if Sara Palin's baby wasn't down syndrome, would she still be such an expert on Autism and Special Needs Children? I don't appreciate her and John using that strategy all the time. To me it is insulting and so lucid.


lucid? Could you explain?


Wow, most of the Democrats polled by the Clinton News Network said Obama won? Astounding!

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Aw come on, Kev. Wipe the kool-aid off your chin. Start contributing to the "Sarah Palin/Joe the Plumber 2012" ticket now, and maybe by the time Obama is up for his second term Sarah will be qualified for the job.

I've seen reports that Fox News has Obama as the winner by an approximate 2-1 margin... but I just searched Fox News and can't find a link to their post-debate poll - for some odd reason.

So do you know of any poll that differs from the CNN results?

Or is the right wing kool aid you drink just too yummy to let facts get in your way?


Lee, you have to remember the GOP is running scared. Not only losing the White House, but Senate and House seats have them in a bind. The only thing they have left is to try and smear Obama, voter caging (which they are good at) and the electronic voting machines.

It's a shame that this is happening, as once, a real long time ago, the GOP was correct in a lot of things. Since 1994, that has all changed.

The GOP still trying to blame Freddie and Frannie for the mortgage fiasco, and neither of those two handle money nor loans. Sure wish the GOP would explain in detail how they caused the greed from Wall Street.

But like you said, they need to quit drinking the cool-aid.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Seriously true, Allen. Watching the disintegration of the two-party U.S. political system is not a pretty sight. What a sad melt-down - the GOP needs some serious reform, but that was known two years ago with the 2006 election, and they couldn't get it together after having their butts kicked in that election, so it's not like they didn't realize they were in trouble in 2008...


hey i would like to know how Obama is completely qualified for president. A senator for a couple of year? thats all. seriously. You are lucky that EVERY SINGLE MEDIA OUTLET besides fox is all over Obama. He is the best thing ever according to CNN they don't even try to hide it anymore.

I can't say McCain is great, I don't know if I trust our (the GOP) campaign anymore, but at least try to be fair. In a time where foreign policy will be important, with an extremely unstable middle east that is going nuclear, we need someone who is experienced, and frankly Obama isn't that.

You know that foreign countries won't mess around with McCain, a tough war vet, in office but they will test the waters with Obama, a newcomer.

Note this is a horrible time for a republican election: a time with frustrated middle class that will now vote for sweeping change when it might not be neccessary

And image how many amazing CNN segments we would have if Obama spent a few years in a POW camp? I can't imagine

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I watch CNN regularly and I find that there are times I'm ready to throw the cat at the TV because CNN is over the barrel for McCain, so I think it's matter of perception, Zac.

Fox News came in 9th in the "most trusted poll" that CNN brags about - CNN came in first, then Local TV, NPR, PBS, commercial Networks... MSNBC and Fox were at the bottom. Fox was dead last. They don't even try to hide it anymore at Fox.


An American citizen should be able to ask Obama
a question, without being crucified by the Obama campaign.
Obama is ahead in the polls, but are the polls
a realistic reflection of what will actually happen
in the voting booth? Obama is outspending McCain
3 to one ... He has 90% of the media in his pocket
... he has 98% of the black vote ... he has voter fraud
on his side, with groups like Acorn ... and yet the
election is still close. So far, all the conclusions by all the
pundits are totally based upon POLLS. Not a single actual vote
has been cast yet. Obama supporters gush at how
well their man has done in the debates, which proves
once again that Obama is a good debater and a good
speaker. It doesn't say anything about his character,
judgement, or what kind of a leader he would be.
I still would rather trust a man who would not sell out
his fellow prisoners, even during 5 years of torture,
than to trust a man who betrayed a 20 year friendship,
for personal ambition. And ... regarding this election,
until people actually vote ... it ain't over till it's over

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Joe the Unlicensed Plumber continued to wallow in obscurity long after he his encounter with Obama... until John McCain mentioned "Joe the Plumber" 21 times in the debate the other night.

That is what sent the press scrambling to find out who "Joe the Plumber" was - and the answer wasn't pretty.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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