Immediately after the debate was over, I thought that Obama had probably forced a tie, and that since he was leading in the polls, and McCain's recent behavior could charitably be described as erratic, that a tie translated to a win for Obama.
Imagine my surprise Saturday morning when I read the news sites, to find that all the focus groups, and many of the pundits, had declared Obama the winner. And not even a close winner, but winner by a large margin. While I'm thrilled to hear it, it took me a while to figure out why.
And then it hit me. People are desperately hungry for change. Recent polls have shown that the current administration has an approval rating of 29%. But voters barely know Obama. The Right Wing Noise Machine has been extremely busy painting Obama as a risky, inexperienced neophyte, and, you know, a black guy, absolutely unready to serve as president. Friday night, Obama showed up in a business suit instead of a track suit, he didn't speak in rhyme, and he demonstrated a wide knowledge of every subject that he was asked about. In other words, he's a perfectly acceptable candidate for president. And he's not a Republican. He hasn't spent the last eight years voting for every important Bush program, and indeed, campaigning for Bush.
In other words, Obama won the debate because the American people desperately needed and wanted him to win the debate.
For all practical purposes, this election is over.