So Who Won the McCain Obama Debate?
Neither candidate made any major gaffes, stumbles or snafus during the second presidential debate so it is safe to say that neither candidate won hands down. There were no fireworks, no major water cooler moments. Even though the debaters traded testy jabs over the economy, the Drudge Report went so far as to label the debate "boring." At first glance, it might seem this duel was a draw. Nevertheless, there is a growing consensus among the pundits that McCain lost the debate, not because of what he did but because of what he didn't do: He didn't create the game-changing moment his campaign needed to alter the trajectory of the race.
With McCain lagging in the polls, Politico's Alexander Burns sums up why Obama gets the "W" next to his name: Obama didn't deliver a knockout punch tonight. But he denied his opponent the chance to rescramble the campaign, and that was enough. The day goes to him.
The Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post all concur, in their own way. This snoozefest created a winner because no one won at all.
There were a few in the media who focused more on the apparent tie. Mark Halperin at Time gave McCain a B and Obama a B+. Of McCain, he wrote: The Republican nominee was by turns aggressive, sensitive, conservative and conversational. Successfully presented a negative case against Obama with an upbeat, optimistic smile. Ultimately though, Halperin echoed the general consensus: Obama played it typically cautious and safe, and thus avoided major blunders, knowing if he commits no errors for the next 30 days, he will be the next president of the United States.
Even if you don't put much stock in the talking heads, consider what nonmedia types said. Each candidate stood his ground, looking comfortable in the townhall setting, yet the instapolls showed the same opinion: Obama won.
In the CBS poll, 40% of uncommitted voters said Obama won. 26% said John McCain won, while 34% said it was a tie.
Over at CNN, Obama fared even better in the poll: 54% said he did a better job, 30% gave it to McCain. Despite those numbers, this isn't all bad news for McCain. The CBS poll did have a silver lining respondents still see McCain as more prepared for the job (83% to 58%). The other good news for the Arizona senator: there is about a month left in the campaign. That's enough time for him to find the game-changer he is looking for.