There appears to be “an emerging consensus” about John McCain and Barack Obama’s overlapping appearances at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church faith forum, said Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. Obama’s “nuanced” performance before the evangelical Christian audience wasn’t bad, but McCain outperformed expectations, coming across as “highly-likable, sincere, and decisive.”

“McCain’s evolution into a candidate who knows how to stroke the Christianist base is somewhat impressive,” said Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic. His performance was “a little canned at times,” like when his “anecdote auto-pilot” kicked in, but “it will work with evangelicals” who have not always trusted him. But Obama had his high points, too, and “this struck me as pretty much a draw.”

If the best that an “ardent admirer” of Obama can say is that it was “a ‘draw,’” said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary’s Contentions blog, “you can bet it’s a sign of a bad night for his guy.” McCain was “surprisingly good,” but unlike Obama, he “doesn’t need to wow the crowds; he only needs to remind them that he possesses a seriousness of purpose and depth of experience.”

Given the crowd, “a draw was a massive win” for Obama, said Alan Kuo in BeliefNet’s J-Walking blog. “Here was an audience of evangelicals in one of the most conservative counties in the United States,” and they not only clapped, “they gave him a standing ovation.” McCain had a good night, but “Obama had a better night.”

The real winner of the night was Warren, said Alan Wolfe in The New Republic’s The Plank blog, and he beat his debate partner—the media—“in a landslide.” Warren’s interviews were like real conversations that let the candidates actually reveal themselves and their leadership styles. If we have a well-informed election, “we have Rick Warren, and not CNN or Fox, to thank.”