The debates have been a boon for Obama. He has simultaneously been able to talk about the issues he is strong on (and voters care about), and capitalize on the opportunity to stand in front of a large number of Americans and look presidential. The McCain campaign's attack ads have been unsuccessful, and I think at least part of the reason is that the Obama voters hear described in the ads so clearly does not resemble the Obama they see at the debates. Obama seems more credible as a result, and McCain seems less credible.
With the debates over, the McCain camp will have the chance to make more wild charges, and Obama will not have the same kind of platform to respond. That could allow the attacks to be a bit more effective.
The other benefit to McCain with the end of the debates is that he no longer has to talk about policy if he chooses not to. Last night, I heard some of the most bewildering things I have heard in a political forum. Three points stood out:
1. McCain again mocked Obama's interest in "safe" nuclear power.Those are absolutely three of the dumbest statements ever made during a presidential debate. Did McCain mean something more complex and just didn't spit it out? Maybe, but he didn't spit it out. So anyone watching the debates now must assume that John McCain supports unsafe nuclear power, indifference towards the health concerns of women, and unqualified teachers in the classroom.
2. McCain appeared to dismiss women's health concerns as a concoction of the left.
3. McCain seemed to say that we should have college grads and soldiers as teachers, and that those groups shouldn't have to go through any testing to be eligible.
I'm thinking his campaign staff are very glad the debates are over.