The Presidential debate is just about over and I'm getting my thoughts down on it pre-spin. I would give Kerry a win on points, but he didn't land anything like a knockout punch. Kerry is a more articulate speaker than Bush, no question about that, and he wins on style. What Bush was trying to do is characterize his opponent as a flip-flopper, and he harped on that theme to the exclusion of almost everything else. Kerry, on the other hand, attempted to characterize the Iraq war as a failure and tried to slam Bush on the issue of possible nuclear proliferation. Nobody really made any new points or said anything that hadn't been said before. The weirdest thing was the emphasis that wound up occuring on the question whether bilateral talks with North Korea (Kerry) or multilateral talks including Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan (Bush) would be more successful at countering the possible North Korean acquisition of nuclear weapons, which by the way happened on Clinton's watch. That bit was a waste of everybody's time.
Effect on the campaign: This ought to shore up Kerry's position, which has been rapidly collapsing over the last couple of weeks, but it won't help him mount a comeback. Bush wins with 35-38 states, I still think.