I did not watch the debates last night. I have been amused, however, to read the follow-up discussions. As you’d expect, the Democrats are insisting that Kerry won, while most Republicans – not all – are asserting that Bush won. My take is that Kerry did well enough to eke out a close win, which is nowhere nearly enough to get him back in the race.
As always, George Bush will benefit from low expectations. Kerry is supposed to be smarter and verbally skilled, so anything but the total destruction of the President or a complete meltdown on his part are unlikely to have any serious effect on the race.
The failed vote on the marriage amendment will also help Bush; it may be an irrelevant and short-sighted idea, but it is a very popular irrelevant idea and getting many Democrats on record opposing it is a winning strategy. I expect it may prove to have far more effect on the Senate races and perhaps the Presidential race itself than the three debates, barring any significant change between last night’s performance and the subsequent two.