Hands down, no question, Obama won the first Presidential debate.
McCain came off as combative and angry–Obama knew the issues, he was in control of the exchange and he showed the kind of calm and stability we need in a President.
McCain is going to have a hard time catching up after this…
UPDATE: And the preliminary polls are in:
40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won.
UPDATE II: Josh Marshall sleeps on it:
I think it was a much bigger win for Obama than I was ready to figure last night. And that’s for two basic reasons.
First, the pattern in the 2000 and 2004 presidential debates was essentially this: the Democrat generally won each debate on points and even in the snap polls of undecided voters. But there was usually some remark or bit of affect that — ludicrous or not — right-wing commentators and yakkers fixed in on and were able to parlay into the dominating conversation of the next few days. In this way, strong debate performances turned into weak debate performances.
I’m not seeing anything like that this time. Mainly that’s because Obama just didn’t make any mistakes. But I suspect it’s also because there’s now more meta-media parity between right and left.
Second was McCain’s attitude. Whether it was contempt or condescension or some sort of fear or inability to — in the most literal sense — face Obama, it made McCain look small and angry.