OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) -- A national poll of people who watched the first presidential debate suggests that Barack Obama came out on top, but there was overwhelming agreement that both Obama and John McCain would be able to handle the job of president if elected.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey is not a measurement of the views of all Americans, since only people who watched the debate were questioned and the audience included more Democrats than Republicans.
Fifty-one percent of those polled thought Obama did the better job in Friday night's debate, while 38 percent said John McCain did better.
Men were nearly evenly split between the two candidates, with 46 percent giving the win to McCain and 43 percent to Obama. But women voters tended to give Obama higher marks, with 59 percent calling him the night's winner, while just 31 percent said McCain won.
"It can be reasonably concluded, especially after accounting for the slight Democratic bias in the survey, that we witnessed a tie in Mississippi tonight," CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib said. "But given the direction of the campaign over the last couple of weeks, a tie translates to a win for Obama."
McCain apparently failed to get the "game changer" he needed to reverse his deficit in the polls, Silverleib said. Grade the candidates' performances in the debate
Both candidates appeared to exceed expectations. McCain did better than expected in the minds of 60 percent, while 57 percent said Obama did a better job in the debate than they expected. Twenty percent said both candidates did worse than expected.
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