But what did independents and undecided voters say?
CBS News and Knowledge Networks conducted a poll of about 500 uncommitted voters reacting to the debate in the minutes after it happened.
Thirty-nine percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-four percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-seven percent saw it as a draw. Forty-six percent of uncommitted voters said their opinion of Obama got better tonight. Thirty-two percent said their opinion of McCain got better.
Sixty-six percent of uncommitted voters think Obama would make the right decisions about the economy. Forty-two percent think McCain would. Forty-eight percent of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. Fifty-six percent think McCain would.
An online MSNBC poll has Obama up 52 percent to 34 percent at 1 a.m. Eastern Saturday. That poll is unscientific and would have a larger percentages of Democrats participating because of the demographics of the network's viewership. But there were more than 350,000 voters. About 250,000 votes have been cast on Drudge, and McCain has a 67 percent to 31 percent edge there.
Most cable network pundits saw the debate through their political prisms. David Gergen on CNN saw it as a tie, but that was good for Obama as he felt McCain needed to win after the rough week he had. "John McCain needed a clear victory tonight," he said. "I think a tie was not in his interest. He is behind. And this is his best subject night ... I think he needed a clear victory tonight and that eluded him."
The McCain campaign was quick to release an ad showing Obama agreeing with McCain on a number of issues during the debate: