8:34 PM [Sean] That last answer from Obama about service -- sorry, Nate, this time I'm the one with the focus group response on the screen -- had the CNN dials on the roof.
8:29 PM. [Nate] That was a very clear contrast on that "priorities" question a moment ago, by the way. One of Obama's better debate moments, whereas I don't get why McCain seemed a bit flummoxed by the question.
8:27 PM. [Nate] Oh no! A question from ... the -INTERNET-.
8:22 PM. [Sean] Hello my friends. Sorry to be joining you late my friends. We have had... a day. Many things, including the general destruction of my laptop, have gone down. But we're gamely here in Nashville.
8:19 PM. [Nate] I think Obama is connecting a little better so far, but most of that is on body language and tone rather than substance.
8:17 PM. [Nate] "Cronyism" is the new "maverick". Drink up, folks!
8:12 PM. [Nate] McCain has been sort of unintentionally patronizing of the questioners at a couple of points tonight. "I'll bet you'd never even heard of [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac]", etc.
8:08 PM. [Nate] I thought that was a pretty decent start for McCain, but he needs to quit wandering around the stage so much.
8:00 PM. [Nate] And I've promised myself not to look at the dial-testing groups tonight until it's over.
7:53 PM. [Nate] The pundit consensus -- of which I'd tend to partake -- is that McCain needs to be steady, empathetic, and stick mostly to positive messaging tonight, but also to draw real contrasts with Obama. It's not an easy task to balance those things, and so while the format might favor him, he'd seem to have the higher degree of difficulty tonight.
7:48 PM. [Nate] I'm coming to you from New York, but we'll keep things real by having the thread in central time tonight. Sean, who is in Nashville, should be joining us momentarily.