Who Won?

It was a draw, as best as I can tell, and judging from the consensus.

Both candidates made strides in removing some of their very superficial debate drawbacks.

McCain looked a few years younger than normal — credit the make up artists — which is a big concern given that this debate was watched by a significant portion of the population in HD.

Obama did make some strides in not coming across as too professorial. He refrained from tilting his head upward, and his answers at the start seemed more sharp and coherent than in past debates. He may have benefited from the fact that he came across as nicer than McCain who, as many commenters have pointed out, never even looked at Obama. Some commentators suggested that McCain may have come across as too negative, in his frequent use of the phrase, “what Senator Obama doesn’t understand…”

McCain did well in delivering anecdotes about real people, but he did it in the context of foreign policy. On the economy, his focus on earmarks and business tax rates probably was too abstract as average voters worry about jobs and savings. Yet Obama didn’t make that personal connection at many points, either.

We’ll see how this all plays out, as instant perceptions of a debate often change in the days following. “Saturday Night Live” may come up with a hit skit, or the pundit class may deliver a few points that change the nature of the debate over the debate.

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