Image: ReutersLast night's debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama was won handily by the D.C. newcomer, according to snap polling conducted by CBS immediately after the event came to a close last night. 45% of the 516 uncommitted voters surveyed by CBS said that Senator Obama took home the prize. Another 34% saw it as a tie while leaving just 26% believing that Senator McCain had won.
A CNN poll looked even worse for McCain, showing Obama winning handily 54% to 30%. Obama ranked better on the economy while McCain lost ground on the question when compared to polling conducted before the debate. McCain's favorable numbers remained flat at 51% while Obama gained four points to a comfortable 64%.
The results are similar to those that came after the first debate between McCain and Obama and reflect a growing consensus that the GOP's top two issues of the Iraq war and the economy now belong solidly to the Democrats.
McCain's campaign has faltered as of late, pulling out of Michigan while having to play defense with money and campaign stops in states such as Virginia and Colorado. Recent polling out of Florida has shown Obama up by an average of five points, with a Fox News poll showing him up by seven.
Evidence from focus group testing suggests that each debate is pulling uncommitted voters off the fence in roughly equal numbers, despite each debate falling decisively in Senator Obama's favor. If there is any impact the debates will have on undecideds, it is most likely to be quite small. Given how far behind Senator McCain is in the polls nationwide and especially in the electoral math, he needs to be pulling uncommitted voters into his camp in droves to have any hope of winning the election in November.
And that's simply not happening.
The personal attacks coming from McCain and Palin at campaign events has intensified over the past four or five days but were missing entirely from the town hall meeting, a format that was supposed to be McCain's strength and perhaps his best shot at winning one of the three debates -- two of which have now been called for his opponent. Three in total, if you count The Palin-Biden debate which only seemed to reinforce negative feelings toward the Alaska Governor after her disastrous interview with CBS' Katie Couric.
Several writers for the conservative National Review seemed to agree with the snap polling results. One reader professed that even though he would still vote for McCain come November, he went "outside and pulled up my Mcain/Palin sign", proclaiming that "this election is over." Andrew McCarthy wrote that the town hall was a disaster for conservatives, and that he was "dumbfounded that no one else seems to think so. Obama did everything he needed to do, McCain did nothing he needed to do. What am I missing?"
Another author professed disappointment that the culturally divisive issue of abortion wasn't brought up -- at a debate focusing on foreign policy -- and that Obama's "associates" weren't mentioned either, presumably referring to the McCain campaign's change in tactics this week, focusing on Professor William Ayers links to Obama. After viewing relevant records and interviewing people who know both men, The New York Times determined that Obama and Ayers were "never close" and that no evidence existed that Obama had expressed support for any of Ayers' views or actions.