The great debate: McCain vs. Obama, round 1

John McCain and Barack Obama faced each other in the first of three presidential debates Friday in Oxford, MS.

John McCain and Barack Obama faced each other in the first of three presidential debates Friday in Oxford, MS.

Put the hype aside, the faulty political commercials, the campaign mudslinging. The first of three presidential debates gave America its first real, unadulterated opportunity to measure John McCain and Barack Obama Friday in Oxford, MS.

Quick takes on the first presidential debate Friday night-

Preliminary Nielsen data from 55 cities where it operates so-called “people meters,” set-top boxes that monitor television viewing, shows that a third of all TV sets were tuned into Friday night’s debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Nielsen won’t release final data until Monday, but if the trend from the 55 metered markets holds steady, it would mean about 57 million people watched the debate.

CBS debate poll:

  • 40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.
  • 68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision about the economy. 41% think McCain would.
  • 49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.

I thought it was an excellent debate. Both candidates talked about their substantive views regarding the economic crises, foreign relations, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism.

The ideological differences betrween the two senators were stark at times. At other times, for example, on revamping the U.S. Bush administration policy regarding physical interrogations of prisoners of war, both men called it “torture,” and agreed America’s global reputation has suffered because of it.

I left watching the debate with a deeper respect for both candidates. It seems to me that they each care deeply about our country even as they disagree widely on these issues:

  • Fixing America’s economic crises
  • War in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Fighting against global terrorism.

Here are some other debate related polls:

Independents in the MediaCurves focus group “gave the debate to Obama 61-39. They also think he won every individual segment. Republicans gave the debate to McCain 90-10, Democrats to Obama 93-7.”

CNN’s poll has all Obama winning overall, on the economy and on Iraq:

Who Did the Best Job In the Debate? Obama 51%
McCain 38%

Who Would Better Handle Economy?
Obama 58%
McCain 37%

Who Would Better Handle Iraq?
Obama 52%
McCain 47%

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About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm an associate professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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