"The short term impact of the third debate will be to help Barack Obama. But the long term implications may give John McCain a needed boost. Obama looked good, but McCain opened the tax-and-spend issue in a way that might prevail."
The McCain campaign is not out of this race by a long shot. Obama's thin resume, the question of his associations, his liberal politics and race are all factors in depressing his attraction to the electorate. If Obama's pedigree were absent characters like Ayers, and his politics were not so liberal, this race truly would be over right now. But these elements of Obama have conspired to keep McCain within striking distance.
It's interesting to me that McCain has tried a variety of messages. Reformer, populist, biography is qualification, etc. But none of that has been successful in putting Obama away and amazingly enough, this race has now pivoted, or perhaps even defaulted to the most traditional of republican messages, that Obama the democrat is a big tax and spend liberal.
This argument has the value of having truth to it. When Obama chatted with the now famous Joe the Plumber and said he wanted to spread the wealth, he was answering the man from his first political instincts and in doing so, handed McCain a renewed opportunity to make the case that Obama will tax away our money and in so doing impoverish America. Obama's inconvenient truth telling to Joe may have inadvertently handed McCain the sharpener that he needed to focus his economic message to greatest effect and close the gap to victory in this remaining 18 days.