USAT/Gallup Poll: Obama Wins

Another survey indicates that Obama won the debate:

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. […] 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.

These are bad results for McCain but hardly catastrophic. What is catastrophic for McCain is the opportunity cost of having lost some ground during the national security debate. Of the things under the McCain campaign’s control with the ability to make up for his deficit in the polls — the national security debate, the townhall debate, the domestic issues debate, the ground game, and final week television advertising — the national security debate seemed like by far the most plausible spot for McCain to make up ground. Instead, he lost ground. Which basically leaves him either needing a dominating performance in the remaining debates, or else for al-Qaeda to bail him out with an inflammatory tape or spectacular terrorist attack designed to frighten people into voting for a continuation of the status quo policies that al-Qaeda believes are bleeding the U.S. economy and driving Muslim public opinion toward their side.