The News Buckit awards it hands down to Talent, noting:
The only other point of the substance of the debate that I would assess would be poise, which Talent won hands down. On the issues, Talent came out knowing what he was talking about, and categorically, McCaskill offered very little to compel voters to check her box on election day. That is usually bad news for a challenger, but as the political climate is generally against incumbents at the moment, the less people know about her, the better for her.
Judith Gayle's Political Waves called it for Ms. McCaskill:
Currently the candidates are running neck in neck, and the ads are getting more negative, bolder. McCaskill more than held her own with Russert, and Jim Talent [moderate at home but Bush’s boy in WaDC, voting in lockstep 97% of the time] fared not quite so well with the mainline Pub rhetoric on Iraq or his back and forth position on stem cells.
KY3's Political Blog calls it a draw
Debatescoop.org features all kinds of views of the confrontation.
As for my thoughts on the debate:
-Ms. McCaskill erred when she simply could not say she was engaging in overblown political rhetoric when she talked about President Bush's treatment of Katrina victims.
-Talent reminded me of the kind of politician I always hated to interview- the one who answered every question with his political catchphrase of the day, even if it had nothing to do with the question. I found John Ashcroft and Mel Carnahan to be the worst at that.
-McCaskill scored points when Talent said he would still vote to go to war with Iraq even if he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction.
-McCaskill also scored simply by holding her own with the senator on a national stage.
-The stem cell flip-flops may cost Talent with moderate voters who may see his switches as being politically motivated. Otherwise, those who are rabidly opposed to stem-cell research will vote for Talent. For those who think approval of stem cell research is the main issue, Ms. McCaskill will be the choice. My guess is everyone else will decide this race based on their views on a number of issues.
-Neither side lost anything on the brief, and really unnecessary detour, to the Mark Foley scandal. This has nothing to do with Jim Talent, no one has suggested it does, and for him to be hurt by it is a simply ridiculous notion.
The debate will be replayed at 9 p.m. tonight on MSNBC.