Well, they're done and we're starting.

Nate Cohn just before the debate:

When the debate ends and the candidates step off the podium, a chorus of political analysts will begin to battle about whether Romney won and, if so, whether he won by enough to make a difference. But while the pundits will consider who made the best arguments or came out with the best sound bite, it’s the big picture that should really frame assessments of whether Romney wasn’t just good, but good enough. The question is whether Romney can make progress toward fixing his favorability problem.
Harry Enten:
Why we need national polls even when it's swing states that decide the election

You might think we'd only care now about swing state polling, but here are five reasons why national numbers still count

And now to the post-debate debate:


While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn't make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.

CBS KN instant reaction poll: Big win for Romney. By 46-22 say think  won, 56% have better opinion of Romney, Romney cares up from 30 to 63
@MysteryPollster via Tweetbot for Mac

The pundits give the win to Romney. Typical example:

Ron Fournier:

Voters expect sitting presidents to win debates and, indeed, polls showed that Obama was heavily favored Wednesday. That benefits a challenger like Romney who grows in stature simply by standing next to the president.
Romney helped himself by looking directly at Obama when he answered questions. Obama looked at moderator Jim Lehrer, which on screen made it appear like he was speaking to the ground.
Romney smiled and cracked jokes (“I like Big Bird!”). Obama smirked.
Romney was a dick, though I thought he did better in the debate.
Not how reality works. RT @sullydish: [Obama] choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight. http://t.co/...
@AndrewRomano via web

The Hill:

Jim Lehrer, the third man on stage at Wednesday's presidential debate, quickly earned his own moment in the Twitter spotlight as viewers interpreted his attitude as one of growing exasperation.

The PBS "NewsHour" host, who has moderated many presidential debates in the past, appeared visibly frustrated while attempting to direct the debate. He sought to interrupt the two candidates several times only to be shut down, often by Mitt Romney rushing to respond to President Obama.

The Fix:
No Bain, no “47 percent”: Inarguably, Obama came into tonight’s debate with more obvious set-piece attacks on Romney.  But, he seemed to be disinterested in using them. He made no mention of either Romney’s “47 percent” comment or Romney’s work with Bain Capital — two demonstrably difficult topics for the former Massachusetts governor.  Our guess is that Obama and his team made the calculated decision not to hit Romney on either matter because a) it wouldn’t look presidential and b) it’s already penetrated deep into the political consciousness of the electorate.  Maybe so. But does it ever hurt to repeat the attacks that have been proven to work against your opponent?
Romney win, but does it matter? That's the real question.
Voter persuasion math. It's O 48.7 - R 44.5 with ~6 undecided. http://t.co/... To win, Mitt would need undecideds to break 5-1.
@DrewLinzer via web

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