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Michael Tomasky:
Well, Fox was calling it a draw, and its anchors started blaming Candy Crowley for how it all went down 32 seconds after it ended. Need to know anything else?


And then there's:
cnn debate poll: 46% obama; 39% romney
@jcpolls via web

CBS News Instant Poll: Obama edges Romney in second debate (CBS News)
@OpinionToday via web

Colorado voters give Obama a 48/44 victory in the debate- more importantly 58/36 among independents. Sample is R+3
@ppppolls via web

The Fix sums up what the pundits thought:


* President Obama: It was a near-certainty that the incumbent would improve on his mystifying bad first debate performance. And, he did. But he also did more than that. After coming out a little too hot — Obama seemed to be on the wrong side of the angry/passionate divide in the first 15 minutes — he moderated his tone to the sober/serious yet forceful persona that he needed in this debate.  Debates are about moments — the moments that get replayed again and again the after-action analysis — and President Obama had three: 1) his line about how his pension wasn’t as big as Romney’s 2) winning, against all odds, the scrap about the Benghazi attack (with an assist from moderator Candy Crowley) and 3) his strong close in which he used Romney’s “47 percent” comments as a cudgel to beat up his rival. Obama’s performance wasn’t flawless and he didn’t score a clean win as Romney did in the first debate. But, he was the better performer this time around.


* Mitt Romney: The Republican nominee absolutely had his moments in this debate. He was excellent when laying out the case for why we aren’t better off than we were four years ago and for why his record as a jobs creator was far superior to president Obama’s. But, as we noted above, these debates are about moments. And Romney thought he had one when it came to what President Obama said on the day after the Libya attacks. But, in trying to catch the incumbent in what he thought was a clear mistake, Romney was hoisted with his own petard by Crowley in what will be the single most memorable (and replayed) interaction of the debate. Yes, we are aware that there is considerable controversy already over whether what Crowley said regarding Obama’s statement was right/accurate but remember that the average viewer simply isn’t going to read everything ever written about the subject to get to the bottom of it. (If you, gentle reader, want to get to the bottom of it, you should read this amazing piece by the Post’s Fact Checker.) They are going to watch the debate and think: “Obama looked strong there, Romney looked like he didn’t have his facts straight.”  Allowing Obama to win — or come damn close to it — on what should have been his weak spot in the debate was a miss by Romney. And, he was clearly jarred by how the Libya fight turned out; he didn’t regain his footing for 10 minutes or so afterwards.

But it was more than that. No one thought Romney won. Romney's people are trying to argue for a tie. But there were key moments where Romney did not look presidential and Obama did, especially on Libya. And don't forget the talking heads today decrying the 'lack of civility" are the same people who explained to us all how McCain won.

Angry that "Obama off the ropes" is already a cliched debate take, but it's clearly what's happening now
@daveweigel via TweetDeck

Obama's "use or lose it" answer wins ...
@davidfrum via TweetDeck

Mitt Romney is now defying the moderator. What a putz.
@woodhouseb via UberSocial for BlackBerry

LA Times:
A newly energetic and aggressive President Obama went directly after his Republican challenger from the first moment of their second debate to the last, attacking Mitt Romney’s business record, his positions on issues and his truthfulness during a heated 90-minute encounter.

“Gov. Romney says he's got a five-point plan. Gov. Romney doesn't have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan: Make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules,” Obama said during his answer to the debate’s first question.

In his final words, he reprised Romney’s videotaped comments, made during a fundraising lunch in May, about 47% of Americans not paying federal income taxes and wanting to be dependent on the government.

I thought the strongest bit on Libya was not the fact-check, which was a bit garbled, but PBO's sustained (opportunistic) how-dare-you riff.
@AlecMacGillis via web

Greg Sargent:
A very different President Obama showed up to tonight’s debate than the one who got trounced by Mitt Romney two weeks ago. Obama absolutely had to turn in a performance that would make his base happy — and he did that, by demonstrating a willingness to get in Mitt Romney’s face and in his space, and by not flinching from calling out Romney’s lies. Will Obama’s performance appeal to independents, swing, and undecided voters?

Yes, it will. The race will not be transformed in a fundamental way — it will still be a dead heat — but Obama accomplished something of a turnaround tonight. He took steps towards undoing the damaging dynamic Romney cemented during the last debate: One in which Romney had assumed the role of the energetic candidate of change, while relegating Obama to the role of listless, passive candidate of the unacceptable status quo — of the “new normal.”

After Romney somehow loses on the Libya question, his last best chance is a #debate on...foreign policy. Uh oh, Mitt.
@jamescdownie via web

And don't miss yesterday's swing states polls, very favorable for Obama before the debate.

ABC News:

Big Win for Obama Campaign in Ohio Early Voting Case

The Obama campaign won a legal victory today when the Supreme Court declined to step in and allow Ohio’s early in-person voting limitation to take effect.
After two lower federal courts ruled in favor of the Obama campaign and enjoined the law, Ohio’s Republican leaders had appealed their case to the Supreme Court.

But today, in a one-sentence order, the Court declined Ohio’s appeal. There were no noted dissents.

Sam Stein:
But if Ferhnstrom wasn't venting anger about the night's proceedings, others were. Among the Romney surrogates, there was noticeable anger over Crowley's handling of the debate. In particular, virtually all of the surrogates argued she had wrongly asserted Obama had declared the attacks on the consulate in Libya an act of terrorism.
Roger Simon:
Perhaps it was mere fatigue that night in Denver. Or overconfidence. Or lack of preparation. Or the altitude. Perhaps we will never know. Perhaps he will never know.
No matter. What matters is that in the second of three presidential debates, Obama was the performer his supporters were hoping for: the Obama of four years ago, a person hungry for the job and not ground down by it.

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