The Pulse: Professors share reactions to first presidential debate

Sarah Binder

Political science professor

“I don’t think there was a clear winner on either side. McCain had more fluency on foreign affairs and Obama was tough on the economic situation and tying McCain to the Bush administration, but I don’t think there was a knockout winner overall.”

James Goldgeier

Political science and foreign affairs professor

“I think they each did what they went in wanting and needing to do. McCain hammered away that Obama wasn’t ready, and this was the issue on which Obama was most vulnerable so he needed to make people comfortable with the notion that he can be the commander in chief.”

Vincent Stine

Political science professor

“Obama just had to demonstrate that he was competent in foreign affairs and had some basis for potentially addressing the current issues. He came off well, forcefully trying to link the Bush administration and McCain, and came across that he was certainly competent. It was pretty clear watching McCain that this was someone who has been around for a long time. This first debate could have shined for McCain, but people didn’t walk away thinking he had clearly won which might have hurt him because this was his chance for him to shake things up. This was the place where he was really hoping to bring Obama down, and there are a reducing number of opportunities for him to change the equation.”

John Sides

Assistant professor of political science

“Historically, debates have not had a large impact on the polls, and it’s too early to determine how much impact this one will have.”

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