Washington Post provides an excellent annotated transcript of the debate that provides some fact-checking as well as allowing you to watch specific exchanges as you read. Similarly, C-Spans Debate Center offers isolated video and graphs each exchange by speaker over time. The two most effective recaps I’ve found so far.
I’m apparently in the vast minority in my opinion that McCain held a slight edge over the course of the entire debate. I even got flamed for saying so on Huffington Post!
I think part of my opinion was the expectations game. After all the ridiculous, manufactured drama this week from the McCain camp I thought he’d be vastly under prepared. That was not the case. At the same time, virtually the entire country touts Obama’s speaking and debating skills, while not giving McCain much credit at either.
Based on the combination of those two factors I was expecting an Obama blowout, and since it wasn’t I likely graded Obama harder than he deserved. Also, I’m not nearly as liberal on economic and foreign policy issues as I am on civil rights and domestic issues.
Essentially, I’m willing to admit that my deck was a bit stacked against Obama, in this particular instance. But, I have an equally stacked deck against any Republican presidential nominee, so if anything I think this might represent one of the few chances to capture my unbiased opinion on the political process.
I’m interested to see if I have a similar reaction next week to the VP debate, where I have a significant absence of respect for one side and expectations about neither.
I also went in with higher expectations for Obama lower expectations for McCain. Just prior to the debate, I’d heard about Obama’s relentless preparation, mock debates, coaches, and refreshers, and McCain’s lack thereof. I think that showed, in that McCain really only had 2 or 3 points he wanted to make all night (spending bad! victory good!) whereas Obama seemed more ready to address the question that was asked, but McCain did a lot better than I thought he would.
I think you’re wrong about Obama’s debate skills. Everyone I read seemed to agree that Obama is not a great debater. His oratory skills lie in prepared speeches. If you remember the primary debates, he really didn’t do that well.