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Presidential Debates: The Verdict is In

The verdict on this year's presidential debates is in, and according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, fewer than half of voters said the three face-offs altered their views of the candidates.

Among those who did change their views, Barack Obama appears to have earned the biggest boost from the match-ups. By a 3 to 1 margin, voters said the debates made them feel better (36 percent) rather than worse (12 percent) about the senator from Illinois, while the number viewing his Republican opponent, John McCain, more poorly slightly outweighs those whose impressions improved, 26 percent to 20 percent.

This judgment meshes with the results of post-debate snap polls of debate-watchers conducted by CNN. That poll found Obama to be the winner of all three debates, and by a bigger margin each time the candidates squared off.

Along partisan lines, independents moved in about the same proportions as likely voters overall, 33 percent said the debates resulted in a better opinion of Obama, 19 percent said so of McCain. But Obama moved more of his own partisans to more favorable views (55 percent) than McCain did his (43 percent). Obama also wound up faring better among Republicans (16 percent said they had a better impression, 22 percent worse) than the senator from Arizona did among Democrats (10 percent better, 40 percent worse).

After the first debate, nearly seven in 10 white voters reported unchanged views on either candidate, but among those who did change their minds, both wound up net positive (17 percent were more positive for Obama, 7 percent less so; 15 percent were more positive for McCain, 9 percent less). But that has since tilted in Obama's favor. With all three debates completed, 30 percent of whites hold better views of Obama, 14 percent worse, while for McCain, about as many said their impression got worse (23 percent) as better (21 percent).

A similar dynamic has emerged among seniors. In the new poll, 35 percent of those age 65 and up said the debates made them think better of Obama, 16 percent felt worse. But just 18 percent held improved views of McCain after the debates, 21 percent were more negatively disposed.

Overall, after each debate, the proportion unmoved decreased for both candidates, finally landing at 51 percent unchanged in their feelings on Obama and 53 percent holding steady on McCain.

This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 16-17 among a random national sample of 666 likely voters. Results from the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. It is higher for subgroups.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  October 19, 2008; 12:01 AM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama v. Bush on "Experience"
Next: GOP Challenges: VP and Campaign Focus


McCain and the republicans are coming out with some very vicious ads and they are going to swift boat Obama. How anyone could vote for McCain after the way he did his wife is beyond me. God help my grandchildren.

Posted by: Westexacan | October 19, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

John McCain is a washed up senator. He had many chances in his long senate career to be the candidate America was looking for.

Instead he has become a bitter and negative man whom is willing to say anything to win even if it conflicts with his morals and better judgement.

Colin Powell could not have summarized my feelings on the two candidates more accurately: Obama is more inclusive, a better communicator and a deeper thinker. He has a deep understanding of foreign policy and the life experiences to make him more knowledgeable about foreign cultures whom we have to understand so we can be effective in our foreign relations.

McCains choice of VP was not his which scares the crap out of me because if McCain wins we are going to have a president whom is controlled by Rovian forces much like the current one.

Posted by: Michael Bernng | October 19, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

The chickens are coming home to roost, and I am rapidly developing more hope for this country. When Sarah Palin was selected and she started spouting offensive, inappropriate comments and people flocked to her, it frightened me terribly. It seemed that people drank the koolaid and fell for her trashy mouth and pretty face. But her continued rants and McCain's continued accusations are starting to wear thin and Americans are seeing what they didn't see in 2000 and 2004.
I hope that Mr McCain can live with himself when all of this is over. He will have a long time to think about it. And I guess Sarah can go back to trying to destroy the moose population in Alaska. Shame on them.

Posted by: Wendy Stevens | October 20, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse


AP Press Release........
WASHINGTON – Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.

Associated Press Release link follows

Gary Gelormino Seven Hills Ohio 44131 (216)447-0081

Posted by: Gary Gelormino | October 20, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I would expect the results to be the way presented when I consider who conducted the polling. We have seen, through out the campaigns, a extremly bised view being put forth by both the print and caable media. What a shame.

Posted by: dnicolo1 | October 20, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's parse Sen Obama's 95% just a bit. 35-40% of American
workers pay no income tax now...none. Thus almost half of the 95%
will be getting a check courtesy of the rest of us who do make enough
to pay tax. That REALLY makes me irate. There are more than enough
federal job, state, and local job training programs for people who
need a better job...and hey there was always paying attention in
school as a way up the economic ladder. Sen Obama is a
socialist...because that's what national health care, 'spread the
wealth around,' really means. Tax the rich till there aren't any
more rich. Thus democrats aspire to be Cuba without the corny
looking fatigues (for now anyway). Conservatives...and though the
GOP needs some radical fixing, they still have conservative beliefs
at their core...want as many people as possible to be rich and
believe if minimally bothered by intrusive government they'll figure
it out themselves because they have the requisite 'wanna' to get
there. Yeah some fall through the cracks but there are social
programs that cushion the fall so you can get up off the floor start
up the ladder again. Democrats want to turn the floor into a nice
low rent living room...YGBSM! That's what 'spread the wealth around'
means. That's what Joe the plumber knows. That's what main street
understands and because that was his message Sen McCain, in his less
eloquent that Sen Obama diction, won the night and Sen Obama's
conversation with Joe the plumber was a self inflicted wound because
America finally understands that Sen Obama is going to rustle the
fruits of their labors and give it to people who didn't earn it.
That's not being Robin Hood...that's horse stealing. Wake up
America! If you want to remain a free people with all the fruits of
liberty that you are guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence
and codified in the US Constitution, then you can't vote for Sen
Obama. He is a great guy. He's smart, he's a great family man, and
he speaks well...but he has wasted his fine mind in pursuing the
wrong path of socialism. It doesn't work. The Declaration says we
were all created equal. However equality is not an inalienable
right...liberty is. Equality and liberty are not the same thing.
Who arbitrates equality? What personal price to you pay to get it
and who defines it? It's a slippery slope...just like Joe the P
says. Forget the fact that he doesn't have a plumbers license. His
point is irrefutable. Wake up America!

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | October 20, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Powell seems to have opportunistic reaction, the similar one to Mrs. Clinton's. The latter one is campaigning with Obama in Florida, like she is his VP. It is, of course, useful for Obama, but under current economic circumstances, Florida would be Obama's, not McCain's, if Mrs. Clinton's campaigns there or not. But Mrs. Clinton needs to show a lot of positive activities to erase even a bit of what her senselessly long and extremely aggressive primary left in memory.
So, she is campaigning with Obama, behaving , like his VP, which looks really ridiculous. The same (similarly) did Powell. He waited until everything became crystal clear, and then gave his endorsement, hoping to get position in Obama's cabinet. Obama is winning, he really doesn't these people, especially Mrs. Clinton. But she knows it, I am sure, and the country would see it clearly after the election is over.

Posted by: aepelbaum | October 20, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

If McCain loses the election there will be much "monday morning quarterbacking".

The prediction of this "non-expert" is that many "experts" will conclude that his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate cost him the election.

Posted by: Bob Fleming | October 21, 2008 5:56 AM | Report abuse

"The prediction of this "non-expert" is that many "experts" will conclude that his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate cost him the election." - Bob Flemming

Count my "non-expert" opinion with Mr. Fleming

But what do I know - I'm from Oregon and don't live in a "real" American state ;-_)

Posted by: foxfire | October 21, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

My friends,

Let those of you who have never suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome c-c-c-ast-t the f-f-f-fir-r-st st-sto-st-t, ah screw it - r-rock.

Posted by: John McCain | October 21, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

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