As expected, John McCain is described as having failed in his attempt to change the momentum of the race. The American newspapers, magazines, and TV channels are unanimous today :
the race is over !
Here is a press review :
Political commentators last night and this morning tended to score last night's presidential debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain as a draw. However, because Obama appears to have the momentum and is leading in key battleground states, the apparent stalemate is being widely cast as a win for the Democratic ticket, with the New York Times, for example, saying on its front page this morning, "There was no indication that the debate did anything to change the course of a campaign that appeared to be moving in Mr. Obama's direction." McCain "was under pressure to alter the dynamic of the race, but "there were no obvious dramatic breakthrough moments" for him.
Network and cable anchors expressed similar opinions immediately after the debate last night.
On NBC, Brian Williams said, "No devastating moments, no towering moments for either candidate."
On CBS, Katie Couric said, "No knockout punches, really." CBS' Bob Schieffer added, "I think...McCain was more on the attack as it were, against...Obama. ... But if he was trying to rattle...Obama tonight, I don't know he anywhere came close to doing that. ... If there was a stare-down contest, I thought...Obama won that point," but "I don't think anybody really won on substance tonight."
And on ABC, Charlie Gibson saw little evidence that McCain and Obama were able to differentiate themselves on policy, saying, "At times I heard the candidates say 'these are fundamental differences between us.' I'm not sure, unless you follow policy closely, you had a sense of discerning what those fundamental differences are."
On Fox News, Brit Hume said, "McCain had the more difficult task of needing to try to make something happen. He had to make a comeback of some kind. ... The question is of course, whether he was able to do that. Listening as an observer, I did not hear one of those memorable moments." Mort Kondracke added, "I did not hear any such moment. You are right. It was up to...McCain to change the game somehow."
In print media, the assessment that Obama won the exchange because McCain didn't deliver a "knockout" blow is practically unanimous.
USA Today says there were "no big flubs or knockout punches by either man, nothing that signaled the sort of 'game changer' that McCain needed."
The Wall Street Journal said McCain "needs to change the trajectory of the contest" but "it didn't appear that the Republican candidate had accomplished that goal."
Similarly, the Washington Post reports on its front page, "McCain was under pressure Tuesday to shake up the race with a dominating performance, but the likelihood is that, as sharp as some of the exchanges were, the contest may not change significantly as a result."
The Chicago Tribune says the debate "was short on the sort of fireworks that could alter the campaign's trajectory."
In an analysis piece titled "In Debate, McCain And Obama Battle Mostly To A Draw," the Los Angeles Times also says that "if McCain's principal mission was to change the course of the campaign, it was difficult to find evidence that he succeeded."
The Politico says McCain "needed to move the conversation beyond the economy, but a 500-point drop Tuesday of the Dow Jones Industrial Average made it virtually impossible."
The AP adds, "There are still four weeks to go, but time is running out on McCain."
Candidates Display "Mutual Contempt" A second theme in the media this morning is the candidates' apparent distaste for each other, particularly McCain's attitude towards Obama. The Los Angeles Times says "the two made little effort to hide their seemingly mutual contempt." Roll Call reports the two candidates "at times seemed barely able to conceal their distaste for each other, with Obama impatiently seeking to carve out unalloted time to rebut McCain's charges and McCain referring to Obama as 'that one' and speaking about 'Sen. Obama and his cronies and his friends in Washington.'" On CNN, Wolf Blitzer said, "It's apparent that...McCain has some disdain, I think it's fair to say, for...Obama."
In an analysis, the Dallas Morning News says that McCain "at times" could "hardly check his disdain for his younger, less experienced rival, even referring to Mr. Obama as 'that one' a moment sure to be replayed this week and portrayed as an insult."
CBS News reported on its 'From the Road' blog that the Obama camp "has seized John McCain's 'that one' comment...and are now using it to argue that McCain was uncomfortable and that he looked angry." On NBC, Chuck Todd said, "I think clearly the Obama campaign is pushing this 'that one' moment. They're pushing it hard. They have already e-mailed it around a half dozen times to reporters."
CBS Poll: Plurality See Obama Win On CBS, Sharyl Attkisson reported on "the results of our scientific insta-poll, the most important question, of course, in a lot of people's minds, who won the debate? McCain won 27% said, Obama 39%. And a rather large percentage of our uncommitted voters saw it as a tie, 35%. Were minds changed tonight? Not many. Of the uncommitted voters who took part in our survey, 70% said they're uncommitted. 14% are committed to John McCain after tonight's debate, 15% are now committed to...Obama."
Source : US News and World Report
So, judging from this last poll, why do pundits say the race is over ?
I have got a different feeling today : as days go by, the number of undecided voters is growing...
They will probably make up their minds on election day, in polling booths...
And then, everything can happen...