Round 2 is over — which way are undecided voters swinging?

October 8, 2008

rtx9bhu.jpgRound two of the presidential debates between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama is over.

How did they do?

The town hall format was seen as an advantage for McCain. Did he live up to expectations?

Obama has been gaining an edge in many battleground states. Did he do anything to undermine or enhance his small lead?

Did they focus enough on the issues? Were undecided voters swayed?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage 

- Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

“Obama came across as presidential.” This is a quote from Pat Buchanan (of all people) on MSNBC.

Posted by pollywood | Report as abusive

Senator McCain won for sure. He has solid solutions for todays problems and he is 100% American. He did more for this country in five years as a POW than that sniveling rat Obama has done in his entire lifetime.

Obama won!!!!!!!!!! I think he is going to make a great president. He is very well spoken, calm and reasonable. Obama plans are also going to help the middle class more than McCain’s supercuts for only rich people. McCain has the same ideas as Bush! How can anyone want more of the SAME????

Posted by ana | Report as abusive

Senator Obama was presidential in every respect; exuded energy, vigor and intelligence, and won the debate. Senator McCain looked sick and tired and sounded like a snake oil salesman from the 19th century. Bottom line: McCain has been in Congress for more than a quarter of a century and our country stands on the verge of destruction – not his fault entirely but he certainly contributed to and has not averted the disasters we find ourselves mired in. It is time for new faces, not just in the Presidency, but throughout Congress. It is time for Americans to get real and get to work and vote for the future, not the past. Barack Obama’s middle name has nothing to do with anything and those of you using it as a scare tactic need to give it a rest. John McCain’s name ends with a “III” which says everything about his cynical sense of entitlement.

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive

NO decision for me here.. still hearing the same old campaign snippets from each one.. Leaning toward Obama though..What kind of book did McCain write the first hour.. all he did was write down stuff. I guess he has to after all he IS over 70 and I know being over 55 I dont remember too well myself.. Obama looked more in control though.. McCain stiff and repeated “my friends” too much.. : (

Posted by Caroldee | Report as abusive

obama won hands down. i didnt mind mccain before. i though he was an ok republican but after he chose palin-the dangerous demagogue-he lost all my respect!

Posted by lilly | Report as abusive

Why in the hell would we follow this failed Administration with its clone? Everything McCain said reflects he is mired in the sloth and greed the surrounds the Bush Presidency while Obama refers to a culture of hope and faith in what is good about our great nation. John McCain may have started out with aspirations of greatness but his trajectory has fallen short. As he plainly states, he wanted to change Washington but Washington changed him. Game over for McCain.

Posted by william | Report as abusive

I believe Obama won. He more clearly addressed the issues and gave good explanations of his positions. He connected well with the audience. But McCain did pretty well himself. He projected a friendlier more energetic aspect than before. He definitely has improved his game. I think that McCain is a good man but his so-called free market solution to healthcare would bring on a disaster. We need to build on our employer based system, not wreck it. Obama would be better for this nation. I have no idea if either one of them can get Osama bin Laden and I don’t even know if that matters any more.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

McCain won slightly for me, simply because Obama scares me, due to his dodging of the truth and questionable associations, and has not addressed any of these charges. Even this week, members of Obama’s Campaign and supporters threw a party for the president of Iran , celebrating a man who claims the holocaust never happened and that he will destroy Israel. Henry Kissinger stated after the last debate that Obama also lied about his statements on sitting down with Iran. As a man of Jewish descent, Obama scares me more than anyone I’ve ever come across in U.S. politics. This is all on top of the statements I’ve read from Obama’s brother who says that he did grow up Muslim (something his school records and family in Kenya also support). I can live with Muslims, and do. What I can’t live with is someone who does not stand up to radical Muslims who wish to destroy Israel, and who has to lie about their past and treat us like we’re all children if we question his statements and ties. We are big enough to accept for who they are now, but not if they have to lie and cover up their past…that gives me grave concern about who he actually is now….at least I know this much: he is dishonest and surrounded by people who are dangerous and bigoted.

Posted by George | Report as abusive

Obama was much stronger, despite McCain’s supposed advantage with the town hall format. His answers were much more substantive. McCain’s responses were often rambling and incoherent.

this debate was worthless, look at the running mate picks.

mccain picked sarah palin. what a joke.
that proves he cant make good decisions.

Posted by scott | Report as abusive

Obama is the real panorama.He has the knowledge,the wisdom,the diagnosis and the method to treat uncle Sam from a chronic paralysis.

Posted by Peter Efthymiou | Report as abusive

Eloquent speakers do not get my vote. It is a man who has proven his character without the media having to be present who will obtain my vote.

Posted by Kristi Osborne | Report as abusive

Obama = boring

McCain wins my vote simply because he has a pulse (which is ironic since he’s 70, but Obama is the one who appears close to death).

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

If you lived through getting Jimmy Carter elected to only be totally disappointed — vote for McCain after tonights debate — Obama is a bad memory — full of promise and no delivery. As an Independent since 1971, Obama blew it tonight — Promises, promises — we ko not need any further political promises.

Posted by David Thomas | Report as abusive

Obama came to the debate to prove, once again, that he has what it takes to lead this county…he accomplished this goal. McCain came to the debate to bolster his chances of winning…he did not accomplish this goal.

Obama won.

Posted by Tangito | Report as abusive

30 million dollars of illegal campaign donations to the obama funds are from middle eastern countries. WHY BECAUSE THEY KNOW OBAMA WILL BE A VERY WEAK PRESIDENT. THIS IS REASON ENOUGH TO VOTE FOR MCCAIN

Posted by denny | Report as abusive

Ok, I’ve always considered myself a Republican…but enough with the “pork barrel spending” already McCain! I’m tired of that phrase. I honestly have to give it to Obama. I’m still not completely decided but I may wind up going with Obama.

Posted by Kandi | Report as abusive

The only hope Mccain has is to alienate the pro-Obama white voters

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

Obama won. He answered the questions. McCain just accused.

Posted by Stephen | Report as abusive

Let’s keep things in perspective: Obama has the market as far as internet/blogger junkies are concerned (and I, too, fall into that demographic). So naturally most internet article comments will lean in favor of Obama.

I am also an independent voter as well. Personally, I’m on the fence with both and as far as things are concerned now, I’m leaning in favor of voting Nader. I haven’t seen enough of a blowout from either Senator to swing my vote in their favor. If anything, the more and more I follow, the more I see them being the same of each other. Just to name a few examples: neither are proposing a radical change in health care; Obama’s stance on the war seems to be shifting more towards the center; and last but certainly not least – both candidates are playing low-ball smear politics.

From a fairly objective standpoint concerning the debates, I believe both candidates did a good job arguing their respective policies. But I feel that it was all a reiteration of what we already know. This is all fine in terms of energizing their party voters, but still nothing convincing enough to sway my vote -and presumably – that of other other independents’.

Posted by Monica | Report as abusive

McCain lost when he chose Palin. Obama won tonight and will win the election.

Posted by Kayla | Report as abusive

I do not feel either candidate answered how their healthcare plan made sense. Felt like they were talking in circles avoiding the negativity of either plan & hope neither gets passed.

As for who won this eve, it was a draw as much as the last.

Posted by Alexis | Report as abusive

It is sad that US politics have become such a polarized tug-o-war when the actuality is that a Gaussian bell curve represents the reality that presidents are elected by the vast majority of those voters in the middle ground.

It is even sadder for all of us that the harsher reality is that the current fiscal disaster is only just beginnning, the proposed solutions are unproven attempts at a fix and even if the best possible solutions are in place…this is still just the beginning of impact.

The next Presidency will be not be defined by either candidates visions of a creating a better tomorrow, but rather just keeping us afloat.

Posted by Randall62 | Report as abusive

All we can hope for is whoever becomes President they will actully show the powr of the Office to truly make changes

Posted by tom murray | Report as abusive

OBAMA won. McCain came off like the fake politician he has since he tied his sail to Bush 8 years ago. As a lifelong Republican (and I’ve had 50 years of it), I’m finished. Consider me a Democrat for this race. Republican incompetence, lies, and avarice have ruined my faith in the party. May G*d bless us all.

Posted by Colorado Matt | Report as abusive

Obama won for two major reasons.

Reason #1 Obama stayed calm, collected, and cool. McCain fidgeted all over the place and looked sick as a dog.

Reason #2 Obama tried to turn answers that require an hour long lecture into coherent, mostly accurate 1 minute responses while McCain stuck to party line rhetoric answers that didn’t say anything new.
Now, this wasn’t a huge blowout win for Obama. It was more like a modest edge over McCain. Maybe a 5 to 10% advantage win.

Posted by Brian Wolfe | Report as abusive

Did anyone notice that Obama flip flopped on offshore drilling twice? He stated that he does support after saying months ago that he doesn’t, then he said that it isn’t the answer and doens’t support it. I really think McCain did well, and was consistant through the debate, where Obama showed he has little experience and isn’t quite ready to lead.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive

Obama won hands down. Funny how the McCains quickly left the building right after the debate ended.

Posted by Bikeridinman | Report as abusive

Obama won – without question more presidential. Also, I thought I’d throw my shoe at the t.v. if I heard McCain say “My Friends” just one more time.

Posted by Margie | Report as abusive

Could the Cowboy and the Maverick please turn out the lights on the way out? Say goodnight, Johnny!

Posted by Denise | Report as abusive

mccain is too old and looks like the side of his face is going to fall off.

Posted by madge | Report as abusive

“My Friend”… sorry, is time to retire, for McSame!

Obama is a young, strong, educated, refined, decisive man, what Our Country really needs in these difficult and delicate times.

Why the *&%#! did McCain had to pick Palin. That is totally freaking people out. I mean, he has done great and could still win but Palin as a VP sounds too risky for some people.

Posted by Al | Report as abusive

McCain won, you people are infatuated with TV actors, can you not see through this act of Obama’? He is a natural , he knows what moves to say, when to come back with a small fraise or statement that has nothing to do with what was asked. Why are you all so mesmerized by a man who has no experience in this type of office, , none, not even a day? What is wrong with you people, he is an actor and a good one. He is performing and you just bought the ticket to the biggest show in the world. Don’t be so easily fooled. McCain will change the economy around, our country can not stay the way it is or it will cease to exist at this rate. So someone one is going to change it, McCain or obama? I want experience with my change please. Think about it awhile folks, really think about it.

Posted by Ran | Report as abusive

McCain did batter than last Debate. But Obama made it clear that McCain will continuing the same policy as Bush did in Eight years.

Posted by Hoda | Report as abusive

Hey Toronto, Canada – Are you a US Citizen? If not, how about saving your opinions for your own country’s debates. This will be our president, not yours. This is our country, not yours. One of the candidates, howver, seems to forget what country he is running to lead. He felt it necessary to pander to crowds in Europe instead of staying here and talking to Americans. You know, the trip where he did not have time to visit American troops, and cancelled that leg of his journey when he found out the cameras and the press would not be following him.

Posted by Pawprints | Report as abusive

Mccain did better than i anticipated. But i think obama did better than mccain.

Posted by Marcus | Report as abusive

I thought McCain showed a much broader and potentially successful vision for our country, and therefore won the debate.

McCain’s plans on EACH priority actually logically connected to the others – a total package. Obama’s were disjointed and conflicting.

McCain’s plan empowers the individual to make choices for himself. Obama’s plans insist that we all pay the government to make those decisions for us.

Commiting to the country’s energy source transition as an industry absolutely should be our next “wave” of development as a nation and global leader, not to mention wins battles on every front.

Posted by Leighsa | Report as abusive

If it wasn’t so serious, I’d be happy to see McCain win the election and Palin to take over the Presidency mid term – it would be more entertaining than most Hollywood scripts. Unfortunately, there is more at stake here than entertainment. I hope we all realize that and take this election seriously.

Posted by DD | Report as abusive

I saw a McCain that is under my expectations compared to some great Republicans.

Obama is a strategic and rhetoric with some cool if not cold sentences.

From my foreign point of view without having the right to vote I guess Obama won. Specially if that was on MacCain’s ground. Never than less, it is close and still open who is going to be the leader and keeper of the American way.

Foreign goverments might prefer the republicans to win because its quite predictable what the are going for.

The Democrats with the start of a woman or a colored candidate, started already up with a change. Something that has never been before as president of the US.

Like most of the world i will keep an eye on this election.

They are both puppets! It’s all a charade! Watch the Zeitgeist Addendum and wake up!!

OBAMA clearly won. McCain’s finished…who would want to see him & Palin for the next four years?

Posted by Pat Valese | Report as abusive

Obama won hands down!!! Barack Hussein Obama kicked McCain butt!!!


Posted by LaVida | Report as abusive

John McCain must get over the appearance of an angry old man. Tonight should have favored John McCain with his town hall meeting experience, but he seemed annoyed to be on the same stage with Barak Obama. I sincerely believe John McCain has lost his focus and his mojo. I had to move all of my modest investments to money market funds today to limit my exposure to the toxic stock market. I will not give another chance to the party that has delivered us to ruin. Vote for change.

Posted by EDWARD | Report as abusive

McCain was on the defensive,because he is so out of touch with middle America,the Real World.The only people he can relate to is George Bush and this country can’t tolerate 4 more yrs. of Greed and corruption. Which is exactly why our Economy is in the dump,and the rest of the world is trying to help and rescue us out of it due to McCain ,George Bush policies,strategies,with obvious little regard for most of us who aren’t in their tax bracket. McCain would have us involved in more wars than George Bush has and more of our children,grandchildren would be forced to serve at the expense of more lives being lost at whatever the cost would be. The past 5 yrs.,has been grueling for our troops to say the least,sending men,women to war without even the necessary vital equipment needed to protect them in a war is ,let alone an exit plan is Absolutely Shameful to say the least. For McCain to say he’s patriotic,when more jobs in this past administration have sent more,more jobs overseas for CEO’s of large corporations to have huge tax breaks is sickening.How is that patriotic? It’s no wonder our economy is in the toilet and once again America is in the spotlight for another failed mess that George Bush along with McCain’s approval,support have failed as Leaders of such a great Country.
OBama, all the way to the White House.We need a real Leader,not more failed policies,more enemies across the hemisphere. Obama has a plan and has repeatedly laid it it out on the table. God Bless Obama to lead the way! God Bless our Troops!

If I was to judge who won, and the candidates, by the quality of the posts here in favor of each I would have to deem McCain as the loser, and a pathetic one at that, and Obama the winner and a reasoned, reasoning intelligent winner. Granted there are some well reasoned posts for McCain, but they are completely overshadowed by the ignorance and inanity of the rest. They would have us choose a candidate based on his name and can find no better ways to support their position than by petty insults, unsupported contentions and the print equivalent of screaming. These narrow minded haters are what’s left to McCain because these are the folks to whom he and his “Attack Dog” are directing their last ditch desperation appeal. Joe Six Pack is insulted. Soccer mothers are defecting in droves.

Posted by Stephen Manion | Report as abusive

I’m an independent, but I’m voting for Obama.He is more rational,more realist,more truthful and more pragmatic.Somehow,McCain looks phony or used car salesman.

Posted by Peter Efthymiou | Report as abusive

Obama had more substance. McCain still came off rude with the “THAT ONE”, comment and corny jokes in a serious debate.

Posted by Dbow_Charlotte_NC | Report as abusive

Generally people who post and use words like “blow out” or “liberal” or “conservative” made up their minds before they even watched the debate. They could have typed in their answers a month ago and they would still apply. An ignorant waste of time.

Both are career speakers and for undecided people like me the formats are never really useful because the candidates refuse to give specifics. Obama did give me more than McCain though. It was irritating to have him keep pushing the clock though. McCain just can’t get past the dirty film that comes with his party for me at this point. His loyalty to the party scares me because I don’t think that he can be loyal and bring change. They are opposite things at this point. It goes to Obama.

Posted by Walter Eggars | Report as abusive