Overnight polls showed most Americans, at least initially, gave Kerry the edge. An ABC News poll showed 45 percent said Kerry won, 36 percent thought Bush won and 17 percent called it a tie. Other polls had similar, or larger, victories for Kerry.
A CNN/Gallup/USA Today post-debate survey found 53 percent said Kerry "did the better job in the debate"; 37 percent said Bush did; 1 percent said neither candidate did; and 8 percent said they were tied. But instant polls also have a much higher potential for error than those conducted over a few days. And the Gallup organization has asked the question in five previous races and in four of them the candidate said to have won the first debate lost the election.
The next debate, a town-hall meeting Friday in St. Louis, and a debate scheduled for Oct. 13 in Tempe, Ariz., will focus on domestic policy, potentially changing the tone of the campaign, which has centered on Iraq to a great degree in the past few weeks.
Here are the results (as of 10:30 p.m. Friday) of how LJWorld.com readers scored Thursday's presidential debate. Visit www.ljworld.com to submit your own scorecard.
- Who won the debate?
9.5 percent Bush, 80.2 percent Kerry, 10.3 percent tie
- Did the candidates play nice?
92.2 percent yes, 7.8 percent no
- Was your mind changed?
8.6 percent yes, 91.4 percent no
- Party affiliation of those who responded to the survey:
45 percent Democrat, 13 percent Republican, 40 percent undecided/third party