Mr Obama was judged to have "done the best job" in the debate by 58 per cent of independent voters in a CNN poll, with 31 per cent plumping for Mr McCain. Mr Obama also did better among Republican voters than Mr McCain did among Democrats. A total of 18 per cent of Republican voters said Mr Obama did best, while only five per cent of Democrats preferred Mr McCain.
The Democratic candidate also gained general approval among the independent voters, while the Republican senator lost ground in this respect. While Mr Obama’s favourable/unfavourable rating went from 63/35 before the debate to 66/33 afterwards, Mr McCain’s sank from 51/45 to 49/49.
Shortly after the debate, the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said it would pay out to customers who had predicted Mr Obama would win the election. A spokesman for the bookmaker, which has taken more than 10,000 bets on the election, said: "We declare this race well and truly over and congratulate all those who backed Obama, your winnings await you.
"Although the Senator seemed a little off sorts in last night’s final debate we believe he has done more than enough to get him across the line on November 4th."
The disparity was even more marked among 500 uncommitted voters polled after watching the debate on CBS: Mr Obama won 53 per cent of the vote compared with 22 per cent who came out for Mr McCain. A total of 14 per cent of these unaligned voters said the debate had made up their mind to vote for Mr McCain, while 28 per cent said they would now be voting for Mr Obama and 58 per cent still weren’t sure.
While 54 per cent of CBS’s undecided voters thought Mr Obama "shared their values" before the debate, this had risen nine per cent by its end. Meanwhile Mr McCain enjoyed a smaller bump, from 53 per cent beforehand to 56 afterwards.
A focus group of 23 uncommitted voters in Arlington, Virginia, convened for the Fox News network by the pollster Frank Luntz, who is often seen on BBC Newsnight, also awarded the tie to Mr Obama. While a clear majority said Mr Obama had performed best, when asked who thought Mr McCain had won the tie, none raised their hand.
Mr Luntz said: "None had made a decision to support Senator Obama before the debate, but more than half supported him after the debate. It was a good night for Barack Obama." The Telegraph