September 28, 2008— -- A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows 46% of people who watched Friday night's presidential debate say Democrat Barack Obama did a better job than Republican John McCain; 34% said McCain did better.
Obama scored even better -- 52%-35% -- when debate-watchers were asked which candidate offered the best proposals for change to solve the country's problems.
More than six in 10 people or 63% in the one-day poll, taken Saturday, said they watched the first faceoff in Oxford, Miss. For those 701 people, the margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points.
The poll suggested the debate was to some extent a wash for McCain: 21% of those who watched say it gave them a more favorable view of him, 21% say less favorable and 56% say it didn't change their opinion much.
Three in 10 said their opinion of Obama became more favorable after seeing the debate, compared to 14% who said less favorable and 54% who said it didn't make much difference.
More than one-third of viewers, or 37%, said they had less confidence in McCain to fix economic problems after seeing the debate; 23% said more. For Obama, the survey results were 34% more confidence, 26% less.
Neither candidate broke away on national security and foreign policy. About a third of viewers said they had more confidence in each man on that front after the debate, and slightly less in each case said they had less confidence.
Obama held a 5-percentage-point lead over McCain, 49%-45%, in the Gallup tracking poll taken Wednesday through Friday. Tomorrow's poll will be the first to include impact from the debate.