Who Won Wednesday Night’s Presidential Debate? [poll]

  • Published on October 15th, 2008

presidential debate barack obama and john mccain[social_buttons]

[Editor’s note: After our wildly successful debate polls of the vice-presidential debate and the second presidential debate here at RG&B, we decided to provide you with one last chance to speak your mind about who won a major debate this campaign season.]

Please join us in our third little experiment in political science here at RG&B by answering our poll question.

With full knowledge that a simple poll question cannot adequately capture your nuanced position on the presidential debates, you are encouraged to leave a comment below. If you’re happier with a simple poll, just follow the link – no strings attached.

Click Here to Answer the RG&B Poll Question: Who Won Wednesday Night’s Presidential Debate?

Image: eyeliam via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.


  • No, Michael, Republican conservative christians aren't insane.

    They are just filled with hate for anyone different from them or who don't subscribe to their particular view of the world.

  • You know, it really is about who can get the better of the other, so saying that McCain is focussed on bringing Obama down really illustrates that: you've obviously not been seeing/hearing everything Obama's been saying about McCain; and that regardless of who's saying what, if your basis for voting is how someone looks, then you're far too shallow to understand the policies ANYONE brings to the table. You'll get what you vote for – be careful it's what you really want.

  • Remember, “No taxation without representation!” That was a statement right out of the American War for Independence, but it still applies. We are NOT well represented by EITHER candidate! McCain’s policies are not great, but neither are Barrack Hussein Obamas! Be careful that your vote doesn’t get cast because of the WRONG reasons! We need to have far more information than we will get BEFORE the election. I sure wish Mit Romney had fewer people who misunderstand and misinterpret his religion because there’s a financial manager who could truly help this country. Instead of lawyers and militarians, maybe we should cast a vote for someone who knows how to do business and take care of family issues too. I say we chuck both Obama and McCain and write in Mit Romney…even “the Donald” would be better for our country than either current candidate! Let’s get back to how to compete with a world trade market and make it OUR market that flows again! And, let’s go back to “may the best competitor win” mentality to bring the motivation to do hard work and EARN our positions in life instead of looking for the lazy, easy way out and continuing to degrade the system through ideas that we are all equal. We are not, no have we ever been ALL equal – it’s always been about who could do more, better, faster and unfortunately, we Americans fell short and quit that race to truly do more, better, faster.

    On the issue of military -v- calm, quiet thinker… I’d rather have a man/woman who’s not afraid to fight to the death to keep our country safe and free as one who promotes the doormat mentality that you “spread the wealth more equitably” and while he’s figuring out how that works, opens the doors and windows to let in outsiders to slit our throats in the night – financially, academically, and realistically. We need someone who is NOT afraid of fighting the fight when the time comes. Obama’s too busy trying to talk with people who have done nothing but war forever. If talk could’ve solved their problems, those countries would’ve long ago put away the weapons and come to peace. Of all the things you could say about Sarah Palin, at least she’s not afraid to say what she thinks and she’s willing to back it up with whatever means necessary. I don’t think she’s nearly the airhead most think she is and I certainly don’t think she’s any less qualified to run than any other candidate. But here’s the real scoop: McCain and Palin were never chosen to WIN this election. They were chosen to do what they’ve done; provide a backdrop against which all others are totally different. No one expected another Republican to win after 8 years, so they threw out two candidates who met their criteria of providing the illusion of a race, they’ve made it historical by adding a variation of demographic types, they’ve knowingly thrown caution to the wind and sent in the “C” team against the Democrats and IF they happen to pull it off, they look great, but if they don’t, it was never intended for them to win, so no big deal.

    Obama may win, but I’ll go to my grave wishing that at least his name seemed more Americanized than Barrack Hussein Obama because in the rest of the world, even a name can make/break the game. I will never say, “In Allah, we trust.” Mark my words, whoever drew the line to compare him to Hitler really does have a better grasp of things than most will admit. Everyone loved the inspirational, motivational, charming, charismatic speaker who could “sell ice to Eskimos,” until they realized he’d duped the WORLD with his words and wrecked it with his deeds. Obama will sell us out. He doesn’t understand poverty any more than Donald Trump. He has not grown up poor as many seem to think!
    He’s no more for the poor man than any other – he can’t comprehend what poor really is and he’s never worked as hard one day in his life as the “working man” must. Don’t dare think he’s any more about the working man than McCain because he’s not. Spread the wealth? Why? Damn it! If I did the work and earned the money, then I by God should keep my hard-earned money and if I WANT to share it, choose who/what/when/where/how I share it. I don’t want the government telling me where MY earnings are being “spread” because I want MY butter on MY bread! I want to select my own healthcare providers – not go to some low-rent doctor to whom I assigned.

    Mit Romney on the write in ticket! A man with financial experience, not afraid of a fight if needed, who has good core values and knows the meaning of traditional families. Mit Romney for write in!

  • Obama is the winner for tonight's debate….HAND'S DOWN!!!! McCain is only focused on bringing Obama down…his facial expressions are so weird!!!! LOL

    He looks very very uncomfortable around Obama. On the contrary, Obama is very calm and composed and is actually talking about the issues that people are really worried about during these difficult times. GO OBAMA!!!!! 🙂

  • Okay, for those who didn't think much of McCain in the debates, the real show was on C-Span during the Alfred E. Smith Fundraising Dinner – both candidates dressed to "the nines" and both spoke well. McCain finally relaxed and delivered a speech with some humor and a hint of flair and a lot of dignity. Likewise, Obama also delivered one of his eloquent speeches. The difference in the debate and the dinner was that McCain finally spoke more calmly, fluidly, and as though a great burden has been taken from him. Obama however, had to constantly and obviously look down at his notes and seemed more nervous than ever. Could it be that it pained him to be in the company of Catholics and other Christians who referred freely to God? Could it be that he knows he's now the touted front-runner and cannot afford any mis-steps from this point forward? BTW: Where's Michelle Obama been hiding lately? When we first embarked on this political journey with Barrack, Michelle was always at his side or nearby and she was doing a lot of speech-making (which got her in trouble). Anyone else find it interesting that Michelle hasn't been seen standing so close to Barrack for a long while? Because she's bad for his career when she opens her mouth!

    Again let not age, race or gender be the reasons for your voting decisions! Let the policies as written by the candidates be the reasons you align yourself with and vote for the candidate of choice.

    I'm personally not ready to hear "Hail to the Chief" played for a man who doesn't salute the flag, doesn't sing the National Anthem, has questionable ties to hate-mongers, wants to talk his way out of a gunfight in warring worlds, and who's name is BARRACK HUSSEIN OBAMA. I just can't get past his very name alone. Who names their child "Hussein" if not a follower of Saddam Hussein or his policies? How do you grow up with that name in this country and NOT want to change it?

  • Likewise, do you want Joe Biden as President? After all, he's as old as McCain and his policies are just as much for the corporate community as anyone. He has no more experience than Sarah at leading the country and his success rate on "the hill" isn't as impressive as Sarah success in Alaska. Besides, really, at least Sarah's not hard on the eyes so if you're going to listen to surreal rhetoric, why not look at a pleasant face delivering it?

  • I agree with Rusty. Neither candidate really answered the questions ( which is the case in almost any debate) but I feel that McCain has the experience and skills to run the country. People keep saying that by voting for Obama, we'd be making history, but to me it seems like people are forcing history. I think that he's a smart man with some good ideas, but not enough to run the country.

  • In reading all the posts, seems most support Obama, but primarily based on either not liking McCain/Palin or by Obamas’ calmer, quieter demeanor. Make no mistake, Obama is just as overtly and easily frustrated by McCain as McCain was by him. His looking elsewhere, rolling his eyes, smiling when there’s nothing to smile about, even laughing are all straight out of high school communications/speech 101 – all signs of restrained anxiety. Obama speaks better and is somewhat better composed, but beware. He is Barrack Hussein Obama, born of a radical from Kenya and a Hawaiian. He’s attended Ivy League school to become a lawyer – speaking well and maintaining composure are pre-requisites of the job of an attorney. Someone drew the line equating him to Hitler – and someone else didn’t understand that. It’s true! Hitler was a very well liked, charming, charismatic speaker and he lost all that charisma once he started marching across Europe and destroying anyone/anything to get what he wanted. I’m not against Obama “the man” – but I am against Obama as our President. He IS going to move us further from a democratic society and more toward socialism. If he has no terrorist ties, then why are all the Muslims in OTHER countries so eager for him to become our President?! Remember, most Muslims have sworn their lives to destroying ours! His father was a radical, couldn’t stay home long enough to take care of the family (but felt he could create several other children by other women too). Michelle is a die-hard racist against the “white oppressors” of this country. Michelle has only become proud to be an American since Obamas’ nomination became successfully locked. Barrack has knowingly been affiliated with known hate-mongers and…let’s face it, with a name like Barrack Hussein Obama and all the questions of his associates/associations, doesn’t that make you wonder if maybe he really is a “sleeper?” Why didn’t he distance himself from the “questionable” people the moment they did/said questionable things? Why did he not denounce them before he was asked about his associations with them? He’s a calmer, quieter natured man with much greater eloquence and elegance than McCain, but the words still have to mean something when you sort through them. Do his words really mean something and if so, what do they REALLY mean? Socialism here we come! My biggest fear is that there are so many “red-necks” who are going to create a world of hatred and racism over this election – no matter which way it turns out. We are going see things in this country that we’ve been working so hard to change, end up obliterated over color. Color, age, and even gender are NOT the issues! Look at the issues – the ones actually in print and not the ones as spoken. Don’t be lulled by a calmer, quieter demeanor and assume he’s a better man. McCain’s disdain actually shows how much he feels for this country and his beliefs – right or wrong. No one becomes that impassioned about something they care nothing about! His plans are flawed, but at least he’s not moving toward becoming a Socialist!

    Bottom line is that whomever wins, we are all going to lose because this country is in a mess we got to collectively over many years – not just the last 8 years. We aren’t going to get out of our hole in any less time than it took to dig into it and that is just a fact which BOTH candidates alluded to last night.

  • Mcain may have more experience and possibly even knowledge than Obama, but Mcain can't explain things clearly.

    Any plumber earning 250,000 a year deserves to be taxed – heavily!

    Obama won.

  • Some of you got it partly right. McCain's only chance (stated repeatedly before the debate) was to come out on the offensive. He obviously did that, but the part of McCain's debate plan that they also said he HAD TO DO, and which many of you totally missed was, he needed to irritate Obama enough to make him look un-Presidential. That never happened!

    Obama handled McCain's 2 trump cards (Ayers & ACORN) without barely blinking. Also, McCain's 3rd trump card, Joe the Plumber, is about to blow up in his face. I wouldn't be surprised if they found out Joe was a plant by McCain's advisors, just to give him something new to talk about at the debate. We all know plumbers are paid to handle other people's crap!!

  • I personally thought Obama's "calmness" was more of a quietness from not knowing how to react to McCain, he wasn't expecting such a debator. I though Mccain rocked it, and Obama was just a man sitting with him and that any man from the audience could have filled his place. I want a president that can step it up and show us what he's made of when the time comes. The media is mostly Democrats, they are going to show favor to Obama, and that always seems to make it seem like Obama did at least a little better…

  • Anyone who thinks that John McCain won the debate needs to do 30 seconds of research.

    For one, even the most conservative news outlet in America, Fox News, gave the debate to Obama by a considerable margin.

    McCain stepped onto the stage last night exhibiting all the fluid body language of a glass of sour milk. He looked like what the lefts have been trying to portray him as: An out of touch, arrogant, and dare I say erratic old man.

    If you don't believe, all you thick head over zealous conservatives out there, then just run on over to your favorite rightwing news station and see what they thought. As I said before, the Kings of Conservatism over at Fox News gave it to Obama…

  • Yesterday's man living in the past. Tomorrow's man looking towards the future. Which candidate fits each description

  • I feel strongly that Senator Obama's demeanor was far more presidential. He comes off as a thoughtful, pragmatic and intelligent person and a really nice guy. I also believe McCain showed a total lack of patriotism by potentially putting our Country's future in the hands of Sarah Palin.

  • Obama would much rather run against Bush, bush is an idiot. He got put into office by making himself look like he could relate to the people where in fact what he wanted was to carry out his own agenda. Mccain gets Palin as his runningmate hoping to not only get media attention but have someone on his side who can relate to the people and look good, she was not chosen based on her skills. Mccain comes from a military family, he has been in the military a long time, he is a war president if i ever saw one. Given the recent status of this country and the worlds economy, the decline in our school system, the lack of regulation on wall street, WE DO NOT NEED A WAR PRESIDENT. John Mccain has served his country God knows, but we do not need a president whos specialty is WAR. Obama comes from the roots of this country, he is not tied up with war-politics, he is a very well educated man and he has shown that he can stay calm and use his brain to answer questions brought before him. Mccain graduated at the bottom 1/5 of his military class, which is no Harvard to begin with. Listen up people, its not about getting angry and slighting the other candidate, its about how youre policies are going to better this country. Time and time again Obama talks about his policies. Mcain spends most of his time downplaying Obama's policies and defending the so called people. I dont want to hear Mccain or Obama condescend the other person, just tell me what your policy is, how it works and why, let the people decide what they want. I believe Obama is better educated, and intact with the country and the world. Mccain on the other hand is not.

  • One more topic to consider: Who supports the creation and furthering of the "No Child Left Behind" Act? That act has contributed to the degradation of our educational systems in ways you can't imagine! Who thinks that teachers should be paid on the merits of their teaching skills and not because of the number of years they have as a teacher, protected by their union? Who believes education should be about honest learning and is innately easier for some than others, but that's why some have to work harder to succeed? Who believes that even if you get bad grades and have bad behavior (including time in jail), you should still be permitted to have all the same rights and rewards as those who truly are good students who stay out of trouble? Should we reward a boy by letting him play football, even if his grades are poor and he's wearing a county jail ankle bracelet for criminal behavior? If you want to know the truth about educational issues, then you should definitely talk with teachers and school staff. BTW, I work in a high school.

  • Wow! Who could have thought McCain won. He did not articulate his case well at all. Obama beat him hands down. Am I the only one to notice that McCain called himself a Federalist? Particularly when the arguement is about state's rights? What a gaff!

  • McCain didn't earn the nickname "McNasty" for no reason – it's clear that he was fighting his famous temper last night and instead of focusing on policy he resorted to snarky comments. Not only do I not agree with Senator McCain's policies, I do not want a president with a bad temper and who is erratic which McCain has clearly shown with is his extreme campaign tactics. McCain far from kicked Obama's ass, and I would press all who said so to come up with some actual policy to back that statement up.

  • I'm not sure of a President named Hussein.

    The only person in Illinois Senate to vote down a bill banning tossing babies who survived abortions into a back room to die. Wants to spread the wealth around. Nope. Don't care who talks a cooler talk. This man is scarey. Think before you vote. Sounds like Levi would like to get in on some of that kissing.

  • Obama definitely won. McCain was just as incoherent in his answers as in the last two debates. He was just angrier this time. I'm not sure that's a quality I want in a president.

  • I'm not a Democrat nor a Republican, I refuse to blindly align my self to a party.

    Having watched all three debates, I have come to the conclusion that Barak Obama is clearly the better choice. Anyone with an open mind will admit that Obama won all three debates, the facts are: Obama has been more truthful on the facts, has run a cleaner campaign, appears more diplomatic, presidential, has been more detailed on his plans.

    The one thing I do after any claim, is to use the internet to find the facts on the claim, I urge all to do the same, you'll be more informed!

  • I think obama has to do with arabs and will let iran throw an atomic bomb at israel. He will let this country down.

  • Our next president needs to know how many states there are here in the United States.(57 I guess I missed the last seven…wonder what those quarters will look like?) If he raises taxes on the businesses, what is that going to do to the consumer…raise the price on everything. We are not in Russia, we are not communists or socialists, it’s not the governments job to take care of everyone. What ever happened to accountability?

  • OBAMA…. It’s clear!!
    Clean, clear, well spoken answers. Strong and to the point. Steady and sure footed…. I believe the USA will be blessed with such a man as president. Obama won my vote tonight, without a doubt.

  • They were almost evenly matched on the first debate but McCain was a disaster tonight – sounding and acting like a petulant schoolboy – getting busted for stating obvious lies – and frankly trying to pick up debating tips from Sarah Palin. Joe the Plumber?! Maybe that’s why he was blinking so much – twice as good as a wink.

    Obama finally hit his stride after a wooden start. He clearly explained his proposals, intelligently assessed our current situation, and maintained a high level of dignity throughout.

  • It's never over until all votes have been tabulated, but I'd say it's looking favorable for Obama. Just remember that although he speaks well, he went to an Ivy League school and he's been taught to debate and speak well as a large part of his education to become an attorney. His health and educational programs ARE the precursor to moving away from a democratic REPUBLIC and closer to SOCIALIZATION. He WILL change things, but will they really be for the better? Ask the Canadians what they think of their health care and why so many of them have come to the U.S. to obtain better health care from OUR system. Be careful voters! You may get what you vote for so be sure you REALLY examine their plans as written, not as they speak about them! Be sure you're voting for the right things! Age? Biden isn't a young man either! He's been on "the Hill" as long as McCain! AGE is NOT another reason to cast your votes for/against. The President does NOTHING by himself – he must get the Senate and Congress on board with everything, so again, be sure you're voting for the right candidate because you're really sure their policies are the ones MOST closely associated with your better quality of life ideals and what's truly best for this COUNTRY as a whole over the long-term, not just four years.

  • OBAMA won hands down, for the 3rd time in a row. McCain came across as a stumbling hothead vs. Senator Obama who focused on addressing the many serious issues our country is facing. Too bad Mr. Obama had to spend time even a minute of his time refuting McCain's petty B.S. and character assaults.

  • McCain is a Republican. George Bush is a Republican. McCain will always be associated with his party. Reality check- who ran this country into the ditch the last 8 years……A Republican! We need someone who's thinking of the all Americans, not McCain who sees that if you earn $5 million then your rich….All Americans get out and vote for Obama. We need the change for all Americans, let's get along and not be haters.

  • Obama clearly won. A rational and realistic focus on the issues is critical now, and McCain focuses instead on "Joe plumber," Obama's character and past, and short term fixes for the economy.

    McCain is clearly less eloquent, and doesn't inspire.

  • Compared to the last two debates, McCain did a great job. Finally, he was on the offensive. Obama was constantly having to defend himself and explain his SOCIALISTIC policies. Personally, I don't care who won the debate. I care about the who the next leader of this country is going to be. My vote is for McCain.

  • Other Presidents had tempers. Eisenhower’s was famously bad. Clinton’s temper was much less intimidating than Lyndon Johnson’s. The real significance of Clinton’s temper was what it said about his deeper nature. There was a self-indulgence in Clinton’s tantrums, an immaturity, a part of him that never grew up and a part that felt free to chew out aides, who couldn’t argue back and weren’t likely to quit.

    Better to have a president with a temper than. . .http://www.military-quotes.com/forum/breaking-obama-tied-saudi-advisor-t66724.html

  • Seems some of you are in such denial about your party. Obama remained focused and calm, and spoke far better than McCain, who was huffing and puffing and getting red in the face. I thought his head was going to explode. The only big mistake a saw Obama make was calling Palin a "capable politician." While I commend him for not attacking her, it would've been difficult for me not to said, "because she's dumber than a brick!" McCain again looked old, tired, confused, often unsure of his train of thought, going back and forth without finishing a thought. The guy is just totally unsuitable for the presidency.

  • Well guys are we gonna be able to come back together after all is sid and done. Are we gonna be able to work on our problems together.

  • I can't back a man who went to church where his pastor Jeremiah Wright said "God damn America, God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human…United States of the KKK." Makes one wonder the converse of the queastion that I heard on ABC where the reporter asks some people on a panel if they knew anyone voting for McCain because Obama is black…why didn't they ask it the other way around. How many blacks are voting for Obama just because he's black. Obama doesn't even put his hand on his heart during the National Anthem.

  • A new and aggressive McCain made several telling points, with detail info.

    Same Obama with same 'change' message but no substance for that change. He gets points from me for a very "glib" presentation but "glib" doesn't run the country. Lot of statements, no truth!

  • I can describe ANWR…Mostly nothing there. Tundra, foxes, carribou, artic wolves, musk ox, crows, ptarmigan, and lemmings. Oh yeah, about forgot the Eskimos. Not the most hospitable place on earth. Just love the way states like California and New York dictate their rules to every one else. I think the federal government should worry more about running the country, and let the states worry about the their own things.

  • I am a registered democrat first of all. I cant believe those of you who are falling all over Obama like he is the second coming. Have you heard about his relationship with Idinga in Kenya? Did you know he gave almost a million dollars to support his campaign and Obama has been his advisor? Did you know over 800 Christians were slaughtered as a result of defeat in the election. Obama has no right to serve as president. He is dishonorable. Those of you supporting him need to wake up. He is not who you think he is and you are being duped. I dont love McCain at all but I can tell you that I would rather have to vote for him than to sell my country out. If we had a true, noble, honest black candidate I would vote for hi, Obummer is not the man. PLease wake up and research him for yourself as I did before voting

  • We need criteria to measure "who won"?

    1. Veracity of offense: McCain – Joe the plumber

    2. Veracity of defense: Obama – answered advert slurs

    3. Depth of insight: McCain – better details

    4. Breadth of vision: Obama – sees both big and little

    5. Ability to create change: Obama – why? Democratic-led Congress.

    It's close but Obama 3, McCain 2.

    BEST QUOTE: Schieffer: "Wanna feel big? Vote."

  • Obama. McCain was emotional and unstable. His inability to just sit still and wait to talk was bothersome and disturbing. I would think someone who spent weeks planning for a debate would be more calm. Obama did seem tired but still maintained. I like that. Things will get rough in the White House and we need someone who is calm and collected.

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