Friday, Sept. 26, saw the first 2008 presidential debate. In response, Big Builder launched an online survey to gauge its readers' reaction.

Out of a total of 25 respondents, 44.0% felt that Sen. McCain came out on top at the end of the debate, while 32.0% felt Sen. Obama was the victor. The remaining 24.0% were evenly split between those who felt both performed equally well and those who felt both performed equally poorly. According to one respondent, "The debate was very low level in that real substance was little discussed."

Earlier in the week, Sen. McCain had sought to delay the debate, citing the need to return to Washington, D.C., to address the financial crisis. When asked if they thought there were other factors involved in his attempt to postpone, 32.0% said yes, 48.0% said no, and 20.0% were unsure. One respondent who saw no ulterior motive said, "He felt [the proposed $700 billion absorption of bad assets] was so urgent, he needed to be there to represent his people." Conversely, a more skeptical respondent noted, "I think it was part of a political ploy. The man is believable some of the time and not other times. This was one of those times he wasn't believable." Others chalked McCain's attempt to postpone up to "grandstanding" and motivated by "political gain."

The majority of respondents--68.0%--felt that Sen. McCain would be most effective in improving the economy in general during a four-year term. As one respondent put it, "McCain believes less government is better, and Obama wants more spending on programs that give away working Americans' money." On the other hand, 28.0% felt Sen. Obama was the stronger candidate, as "McCain seems far behind on modern economic realities." One respondent, disagreeing with both candidates views, stated, "Neither one of them have a clue. Independent candidate Bob Barr is a better choice."

Over half of the total respondents--56.0%--felt that Sen. McCain would do the most to improve the situation on Wall Street, as he "will look for more market-driven solutions." Nearly a quarter--24.0%--disagreed, arguing that Sen. Obama was the better candidate with respect to the situation on Wall Street; 20.0% felt that neither candidate has the knowledge and experience necessary to make a positive impact on Wall Street.

The split was essentially identical when asked which candidate was best equipped to address housing-related issues, with 56.0% in favor of McCain and 24.0% in Obama's corner; 16.0% felt neither would prove effective. Said one respondent, "I'm not sure either really understands the situation that builders are in at this time."

Respondents had concerns specific to both candidates. With respect to Sen. Obama, primary concerns included socialist policies, inexperience, and increased spending. When asked what concerns, if any, respondents would have in the event Sen. McCain were elected, deregulation, a lack of restraint on illegal immigration, and a continuation of failed Bush policies were among the concerns listed.

When asked which vice presidential candidate would be best prepared to occupy the Oval Office should the president be unable to complete his four-year term, respondents were evenly split at 44.0% in favor of Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden respectively; 4.0% felt both were well prepared, compared to 8.0% who felt neither was prepared to assume the presidency. Said one respondent in favor of Gov. Palin, "I like her views. If something should happen to the president in the first six months, Joe Biden may be better prepared. But she is very intelligent, seems to be a quick learner, and would do fine in the office of president." On the flip side of the coin, another respondent exclaimed, "Governor Palin is completely unprepared and is the worst VP choice I have ever seen!" And as one respondent less-colorfully put it: "[Biden has] experience and the ability to see and express [his views on] issues. He's especially good on foreign affairs."