WASHINGTON — Democrat Barack Obama’s debate performance Friday night reinforced voter views of him as a candidate of change and appears to have had little impact on Republican John McCain’s standing in the presidential race, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

The poll, taken Saturday, found 63% of those surveyed watched the first debate in Oxford, Miss. By 46%-34%, those who watched said Obama did a better job than McCain. Obama led McCain, 52%-35%, when they were asked which candidate offered the best proposals for change to solve the country’s problems.

On top of that, says Steven Keller, a political communication professor at George Washington University, McCain came in on “a failed gambit and blinked” — a reference to McCain’s attempt to suspend his campaign and postpone the debate during congressional negotiations over a Wall Street bailout plan.

Does this really come as a surprise to anyone with common sense or who truly loves this country?

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