John McCain didn't just fail to get the game-changer he needed -- he was trounced in this third and final debate, if the instant post-debate polling provides any indication.
The results over at CBS show Obama to have scored the biggest victory to date: "Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight's debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-four percent saw the debate as a draw."
It is, the site writes, "a clean sweep" for the Illinois Democrat.
Over at CNN, a separate poll of several hundred debate watchers again favored the Democrat by large margins: 58 percent for Obama to McCain's 31 percent. Perhaps more importantly, McCain's favorable rating dropped 51 to 49 while his unfavorable rating increased from 45 percent to 49 percent. Obama ended up with 66 percent favorable rating.
Digging into the details the news is even worse for the Arizona Republican.
Asked who "expressed his views more clearly" 66 percent said Obama, 25 percent said McCain.
"Who spent their time attacking his opponent:" 80 percent said McCain, seven percent said Obama. "Who seemed to be the stronger leader:" 56 percent for Obama, 39 percent for McCain. And who was "more likeable:" 70 percent for Obama to McCain's 22 percent.
CNN also conducted a smaller focus group of 25 undecided likely voters in Ohio, and Obama won that too, 15-10.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, meanwhile, conducted some polling before and after the debate and here are his findings.
Before the debate:
McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable
Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable
After the debate:
McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable
Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable
Meanwhile, virtually the entire Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News, which was staged tonight in Miami, said that Barack Obama won the debate. Luntz termed it a "clear majority," but not one person raised their hand when asked if they thought McCain won.
Said Luntz: "None had made a decision to support Sen. Obama before the debate, but more than half supported him after the debate. It was a good night for Barack Obama."
On the flip side, The Page's Mark Halperin offered the following grades:
Obama a B and McCain an A-