Personally, I thought that from a debater's POV, McCain won, since he was on the offensive (putting Obama on the defensive) most of the debate, but from a political POV, I think it was a tie. Yes, Obama was on the defensive, but that goes along with his "firm but gracious" image, which seems to be working for him in these sorts of situations. On the other side of that, it reinforces the "McCain is aggressive" complaint. Obama stuttered; McCain horribly mangled a name and repeated an exact phrase he had already used multiple times in the same sentence/paragraph twice. Both had factual errors that came up in fact-checks post-debate, none of which were significant enough to marginalize the candidate's point. Both seemed engaged and made some good points (although McCain seemed intent on not looking at Obama--what was with that?) Both got a little rambly and wandered away from their points at times. Obama came off as a little inexperienced, McCain came off as a little condescending. I think they both did enough good and bad to balance out each others' impact. Neither hit it out of the ballpark. However, as far as presidential debates go, it was pretty good; good discussion and interaction, and Jim Lehrer was a good host, I thought.
A cruising of the post-debate media pundits showed them to be spinning the debate in Obama's direction, which is perhaps of even more importance than the actual debate. And Obama's one really amazing sound byte (the one about the Iraq war) seems to be the highlight that the news shows keep replaying, so that's really good.
Overall, I say that Obama gains a slight edge, adding to the edge he already had going in. Even if the debate ends up being called a tie, Obama still comes out on top, since foreign policy is supposed to be McCain's strong point, and all Obama really had to do to maintain his lead was hold his own, which he did.
So, there's my analysis of it. What say you all?
I realize it's been a while since I made a real political post (or political/religious-type rant), so just know that I am a Jewish Atheist (meaning: jewish in culture, atheist in belief) with a strong dislike of organized religion, and a die-hard left-wing liberal. (You have NO IDEA how ecstatic I am that I get to cast my first vote in a presidential election for Obama. Seriously.) So anyway, I don't know what all of your political/religious leanings are, but just know this: even if I don't agree with you, I still respect your views. I have had religious conservatives on my flist before (and still do). As long as you don't try to convert me or call me stupid (or anything like that), I have no problem with polite, intellectual discussion of different opinions on these topics--encourage it, even. (Can you tell I love debating?) Or, if you prefer not to talk about it with me, that's okay too. You are perfectly free to pass on by if this makes you uncomfortable, or you don't want to read about my views on this stuff. That's totally cool--feel free to just come back when I'm back to fandom- or life-related rantings. :)
ETA: This site is reporting that Obama won as well, and has some interesting YouTube clips of post-debate news coverage (one of which I just watched on TV when it was airing a few hours ago).