The debate was largely underwhelming, with no candidate performing any Phil Allenesque Jiu Justu. But I score the debate to McCain.
1. Everyone, myself included, expected Obama to dance circles around McCain. That definitely didn’t happen. McCain wasn’t great but he more than held his own. Ties goes to the candidate with lower expectations.
2. The old political saying goes “if you’re explaining you’re losing” And Obama did a lot of explaining. Don’t get me wrong, he had some decent lines written for him, but his delivery was poor throughout the debate. (Relative to his normal oratory abilities). McCain on the other hand was very good about speaking about his plans and ideas optimistically and proactively.
I think this debate was another sign that for all of Obama’s grandstanding and promises of magic tricks during the primary, he’s largely been just a generic democrat during the general. Which of course is good and bad.
All in all, nothing really changed after this debate.