The most enduring image of the debate for me was McCain's reaction to Obama's statement that Joe the Plumber would pay ZERO fines if Joe didn't buy health insurance for his (future?) employees. McCain gaped aghast - he clearly was not expecting that! Video via kos:
I am so happy to have that video... On a second watch, McCain's reaction is simply b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.
It was also surprising to see the Democrat argue against wasteful spending of taxpayer money - like buying mortgages at face value, or higher health care costs due to ER visits by uninsured people.
Outside of that, though, I thought Obama could have socked McCain at least a couple of times. For instance, after Obama said "zero" fines for JtP, McCain just continued to spout his "will have to pay fines" line. Obama could have simply said, "didn't you hear me, John?" Or when McCain said toward the end "so if there aren't enough vouchers, lets not do it? I understand!" - Obama could have said "vouchers are your only solution to education; I have a much more comprehensive approach - including charter schools - because the youth are America's future." Or about ACORN (this might be a too-subtle point, but let's not underestimate voters) - "you could register Mickey Mouse or one guy 23 times, but Mickey Mouse is not going to vote, and a guy can vote only once!" [After all, McCain did say "democracy is endangered by ACORN!"]
In trying to avoid a gaffe/not lose, I think Obama let a great opportunity to KO McCain slip away. It's just like the primaries - Obama's running out the clock, content that he has a definite lead that he has to protect. Unlike the primaries, though, Obama has a lead in the polls - but nothing in the bag, yet.
Still, I remain cautiously optimistic...