Well, the early returns are in and Barack Obama won the debate by every meaningful measure. I can’t say that I am sure why. I saw the debate as a draw. But I’m a man and, according to CNN, men preferred McCain by a 46%-43% margin, while Obama won among women by a 59%-31% margin.
The reason I saw the debate as a draw was because McCain was more consistently on the attack, he was extremely tough, he didn’t make any major gaffes, and he demonstrated a good working knowledge of foreign affairs. For me, that was enough to compensate for a very strong performance by Barack Obama.
However, I think McCain’s weakness with women was partially a result of the fact that the debate’s last hour was dedicated to foreign policy. Obama wisely brought as many questions as he could back to issues affecting average families. Obama talked about the struggles of the middle class, he talked about the price of education and health care and gas. I think Obama won a debate about foreign policy by talking about domestic affairs.
I hadn’t really thought of that angle while I was watching the debate. I was more concerned with attacks McCain was making that were not getting sufficiently rebutted. But Obama is smarter than me and has better political judgment than I do. He has demonstrated that to me over and over and over again. And that is why you never see posts from me that presume to tell Obama what he must do differently to win. He’s winning.