Having now offered the disclaimer as to why debates are worthless, let me give my post-debate reax (nothing like a little hypocrisy in the political silly season). It's amusing to watch the spin room after the debatesand see both sides claiming victory. I think both sides have a point--each overcame the possible worst-case scenario, and there were no serious sound bites ("Well, there you go again...") that seem destined for viral youtube. Obviously, I heard more I agreed with from my guy, etc. But if I were grading this as an undecided and uninformed voter, I'd have to give the nod to Obama. This election is about change, and about him. If he can clear the hurdle of minimal acceptability, he's supposed to win. He did that, and more. He seemed just as "presidential" up there as McCain, and he seemed thoughtful, even moderate. Even when selling ideas that I would characterize as from the left, he struck a tone of centrism. So did McCain, of course, but everybody knows McCain is a moderate. The only folks who think otherwise are voting for Obama anyway. So I think Obama helped his cause more.
Now, whether I BELIEVE that Obama is really as moderate as he sounds... that's another story. But as I mentioned before, my vote is not even in play, so that point is moot.