The debate left partisans feeling like their man won the debate. In boxing terms, each of them got shots in but no knockouts. Obama was clearly more energized and aggressive while Romney calmly got in his talking points in a cool, articulate manner. Some give a slight edge to Obama overall.
I think overall Romney was the winner because the debate didn't change the arc of the campaign which is in his direction. I think this is because people, independents, undecideds are trying to figure out whether Romney is up to the job of being president. Nothing happened last night to say he isn't. He was able to go toe to toe with the president and came off better in terms of giving a forward looking vision. Obama doesn't give a clear, hopeful vision for where he wants to take the nation over the next for years. Romney also seemed fresher.
The most telling commentary was this focus group of undecideds and former Obama voters convened by Frank Luntz, the pollster. A number of past Obama voters said they were changing their votes. If they are representative of other, past Obama voters, then Obama is in trouble.
Obama has a poor record on the economy which everyone can see and experience on a personal level. That's why he's trying to make Romney the issue at every turn.