The insta-polls are favoring Kerry tonight: Gallup has him beating Bush 52%-39%, CBS has him up 39%-25%, ABC has it essentially tied (Kerry 42, Bush 41) with a GOP-leaning sample.
1. The insta-polls are notoriously weak methodologically.
2. Voters still know a lot more about Bush than Kerry, so Kerry had much more room to grow. Even an essentially even debate would probably sway more voters toward Kerry.
3. Despite the obvious flaws, these polls will shape how the media covers the debate. That will be especially important for a debate that probably drew a relatively small audience.