There's been endless post-game discussion about who won last night's presidential debate, most of it meaningless.
Wow, no big surprise. Republican spinmeisters claim that McCain kicked Obama's butt, while their Democratic counterparts spin the opposite way.
Much more persuasive is what polls and focus groups say. Almost universally, Obama won. And on McCain's home field, foreign policy – which was the focus of the debate.
Daily Kos has a good summary of polling results. Conclusion:
The focus groups picked up soft, but important data on the debate, and the snap polls show an Obama win. Focus groups pick up the "likeability" piece, which polls do not. Obama won that going away.
A CBS News poll had Obama winning 39-24, with 37 percent calling it a draw. Significantly, more independent voters saw Obama as the winner.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll had Obama on top 51-38. He even had an edge on national security, supposedly McCain's strength.
FiveThirtyEight analyzes why voters thought Obama won.
McCain's essential problem is that his fundamental strength – his experience -- is specifically not viewed by voters as carrying over to the economy. And the economy is pretty much all that voters care about these days.
MediaCurves found that independents gave Obama higher marks on every issue area: financial recovery plan, economic plans, government spending, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, likelihood of another 9-11 attack, and who won the debate.
It'll be interesting to see how these numbers change over the next week. My prediction: Obama is going to increase his lead.
And after Sarah Palin embarrasses herself next Thursday in the vice-presidential debate, Obama and Biden are going to move further ahead.