The campaigns, not surprisingly, have both declared victory, while some early polls suggest that Barack Obama fared better.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. flash poll of debate viewers found that 54 percent thought Obama won, while 30 percent believed McCain did.
A CBS News/Knowledge Networks flash poll of uncommitted voters nationwide gave the debate to Obama: 39 percent said Obama won, while 27 percent said McCain won, and 35 percent saw the debate as a draw.
"Tonight, John McCain won the debate. He was the only man who demonstrated he had the independence and strength to take on everything that's broken in Washington and on Wall Street. John McCain had a clear plan for improving the lives of Americans -- keeping them in their homes through his American Homeownership Resurgence Plan. From Barack Obama, we heard half-truths and contradictions between what he says and what he has done. He said he supported offshore drilling but has opposed it for months. He talked about tax cuts but he voted for higher taxes 94 times and promises increased taxes on small businesses. He talked about reducing the size of government but has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending. Tonight, Barack Obama had an opportunity to level with the American people, but instead all we heard was more of the same," Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's communications director, said in a statement.
Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe responded, “Barack Obama won a resounding victory in John McCain’s favorite debate format because he made the case for change that will rebuild the middle class. The American people asked tough questions tonight, and only Barack Obama was in touch with their struggles and offered clear and passionate answers about creating jobs, reducing health care costs, cutting taxes for 95% of working families, and responsibly ending the war in Iraq. John McCain was all over the map on the issues, and he is so angry about the state of his campaign that he referred to Barack Obama as ‘that one’ – last time he couldn’t look at Senator Obama, this time he couldn’t say his name. The McCain campaign said, ‘if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,’ and John McCain definitely lost tonight."
McCain's camp also issued a statement from former New Hampshire Congressman Charles Bass: "Americans saw a clear contrast tonight. John McCain spoke with characteristic 'straight talk' on the economy, job creation and eliminating our dependence on foreign energy sources. Barack Obama offered up more of the same empty rhetoric, masking a long record of support for high taxes and wasteful spending. As the only candidate in the race with a proven record of working across party lines, John McCain proved once again that he is the candidate best positioned to deliver real change."
Obama's one-time rival Hillary Clinton issued this statement: “Tonight’s debate proved once again that an Obama-Biden Administration will provide the fresh start America so desperately needs. The biggest risk for American families is four more years of the last eight years and mavericks in charge of the United States economy. Mavericks in Washington and on Wall Street got us into this mess. As we saw, Senator Obama displayed beyond a doubt that he understands both the gravity of the financial crisis facing America, and the challenges we face in Iraq and around the world. Senator McCain offered only more of the same failed policies of the Bush Administration. It's time for a change.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.