The general impression seems to be that the debate was largely a draw, but if one were obliged to say that someone won, it would be Barack Obama.
A large part of the debate was on the current economic situation, and there the consensus is that Obama was largely more convincing than McCain. Polls have shown recently that the majority of Americans are more convinced by Obama’s ability to rescue the drowning American economy, and this first debate should only strengthen this trend.
The second (and originally only) subject was foreign policy and national security. This is largely perceived as McCain’s strong point and the press is unanimous that he showed much more confidence for these subjects than he did when discussing the economy. However, one of McCain’s main goals was to paint Obama as inexperienced in this field, and on this point the press feels that he failed somewhat in the task. Obama, although defensive, held his own on these two closely related subjects and convinced on his ability to manage these issues if elected President.
Of course, both presidential candidates didn’t hesitate to paint history to their liking. There’s of course a fine line between bending the truth to suit one’s needs and out and out lying, and I think it’s important for the citizen to be able to sniff out the nuance politique when necessary. Here therefore is a list of fact-checking articles from various major newspapers from around the U.S.
From the New York Times:
Check Point: The First Debate
From the Boston Globe:
Checking the facts
From the Washington Post:
Debate Decoder: September 26, 2008
From the Chicago Sun Times:
Fact checking the presidential debates
From the Los Angeles Times:
Fact-checking the debate