Quick debate thoughts: 

I thought John McCain was more effective and coherent tonight than in the previous two debates. He mostly controlled the terms of the debate, in part by defining the average American as a plumber who earns more than $250,000 a year. His points, though often inaccurate, were not always rebutted (in part because Obama simply didn't have time to rebut every allegation.)

However, McCain lost the overall message of the debate. The cost of McCain's sharper tone was that he sounded more like a dogmatic Republican. Obama was softer, let many points go, but was much more effective at sounding like a moderate.

I continue to think that Obama's demeanor is vastly more effective. Obama is more calm, more reasonable sounding, and can make attacks without sounding nasty, something McCain simply cannot do.

--Jonathan Chait