"The visuals of the night did not necessarily work in McCain's favor," ABC's Jake Tapper reported on "Good Morning America Thursday. "Some said Obama seemed to be doing Muhammad Ali's old 'rope-a-dope' strategy -- assuming a protected stance and letting his opponent hit him in the hopes he'll become tired and make mistakes."
(You think Hillary Clinton knows something about McCain's frustration?)
The post-debate polls weren't even close, suggesting not just that Obama is winning, but that McCain is being tuned out.
CNN's poll gave it to Obama 58-31.
CBS' poll scored it 53-22 for Obama among uncommitted voters.
Much closer in the Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll: 49-46 for Obama, with McCain carrying independents.
Obama carried Frank Luntz's focus group, too. "Obama talks like a governor, John McCain talks more like a senator," Luntz said on "GMA."
This, for what looked like McCain's best: "The Republican's tone was crisper, sharper and more cutting than it had been in the first two debates. He kept Obama on the defensive for much of the 90-minute forum, attacking him for everything from his association with '60s radical Bill Ayers to his decision not to take public financing for his campaign," USA Today's Susan Page writes.
"McCain's very intensity may have at least prompted some voters to take a second look at Obama and his policies," The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos writes. "McCain's performance wasn't friendly or gracious; but it may have been effective."
Time's Mark Halperin gives McCain an A-, Obama a B. On McCain: "It was an impressive performance from a politician who is generally more comfortable offering broad statements and displaying his compelling personality, than focusing on detail and nitty-gritty."
Really, we only care about the plumber-pundit, who's not saying who he's voting for (and said he was surprised by the mentions), but seems ready to take a plunge:
"Just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you -- that's scary," plumber Joe Wurzelbacher told ABC's Diane Sawyer, in an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America" Thursday. "Because you're successful, you have to pay more than everybody else? . . . That's a very socialist view, and it's incredibly wrong."
"To be honest with you, that infuriates me," Wurzelbacher told Nightline's Terry Moran, referencing Obama's tax plan. "That's just completely wrong."
(Does he like being known to the nation as Joe the Plumber? "My son's digging it," he said. "It's kind of neat -- I gotta admit, it's kinda neat.")
Sen. Joe Biden likes Joe and all, but he's eyeing more average Joes: "We're worried about Joe, the guy who owns the gas station, the barber, the grocer. Ninety-eight percent of the small business people in America make less than $250,000 a year. And they're going to get a real break under our plan" Biden tells ABC's Diane Sawyer.
Biden, on McCain: "John was better tonight than he has been in the last two nights, particularly in the beginning. But he seemed to get more angry as he went on, and he seemed to focus more in response on attacks."
Team McCain has someone to recommend: "Plumber Joe tonight. Plumber Joe, people. Plumber Joe is representative of a lot of people that need their hard-earned dollars to build the American dream," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds tells ABC's David Wright.
"No one night turns things around. We have 20 more nights," says McCain adviser Charlie Black. (Actually, we're down to 19.)