Mark A. R. Kleiman summarizes the post-debate polls and we now know that Kerry won among those who watched the debate.
Kerry won every poll (not web-poll, but real poll) after the debate.
Kerry did even better v. Bush than he did in the first debate, which seemed incredible to me, since Bush was so horrible in the first debate.
But my better half put it in perspective. Kerry looked more like a President in every debate. His 13-point win in the CNN/Gallup poll after this third debate is probably an indicator that Bush deflated his persona ("strong" "decisive," etc.) with the first debate, and viewers saw Kerry as more of a real man and a real leader than Bush in this debate, especiaally recollecting how poorly Bush did in the first debate.
One thing not often mentioned is how much Bush changed in each debate, depending on how his handlers thought he did in the last debate. Kerry was pretty much the same in each debate. Bush seemed like he was a different person in each one. Bush is a chameleon, Kerry is the same guy from debate to debate.
Why does Bush change so much? Especially after being president for four years?
It sure doesn't make me think that voters "knows where Bush stands." Bush changes as his pollsters and Karl Rove tell him to change.
Kerry is solid, and is himself, and unswayed by political image makers. Bush changes from debate to debate as his political team tells him to.
The polls back me up on that. Sadly for Bush.