Lets just get this out the way first: no one wins these presidential debates. They are just way too rehearsed, too devoid of content, and too much theater for anyone to actually win. These are not Oxford style debates. There is no main issue to argue for or against and no before and after audience polling.
That being said, Romney finally did himself a favor in this first debate. He managed the expectations game well and will probably come out on top in this round. There were no awkward moments, no soundbites, and/or no bizarre gestures that will play over and over again in the media (or the President’s campaign ads for that matter.)
Romney looked good overall. He was confident, aggressive even, and I found myself more interested in what he had to say than the President. Obama, for his part, looked a bit flat. He missed opportunities to jab back at Romney. Tax returns never came up. Neither did the now infamous 47% issue.
Health care reform, which should be Romney’s strongest issue, continues to be his weakest. He has tied himself in knots trying to balance his record in Massachusetts vs the outrage in his base over it. Obama once again missed the opportunity to hammer home the fact that Obamacare is based entirely on Mitt Romney’s health plan.
Neither candidate offered much in the way of specifics or a vision of the future. Immigration never came up. Neither did civil liberties issues surrounding the War on Terror. That, however, was expected. My analysis comes simply from thinking of the average voter, and how either of the candidates would appear to him or her. In this case I have to give it to Romney.