For some, the winner of Tuesday night’s debate was clear-cut.
Longtime Obama supporter Andrew Sullivan, a columnist for the Daily Beast website who was among the most vocal critics of the president’s performance at the previous Oct. 3 debate, said: “Obama dominated Romney tonight in every single way: in substance, manner, style and personal appeal. He came back like a lethal but restrained predator.”
On left-leaning MSNBC, hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews unequivocally declared Mr. Obama the winner.
“That this was probably, I think, the best debate of Barack Obama’s career as a national politician … a U-turn from what we saw two weeks ago,” Ms. Maddow said.
On CNN, GOP commentator Alex Castellanos compared both candidates to a couple of high school jocks, but he said Mitt Romney was more pleasant than the president: “I think a lot of American women saw two high school jocks who didn’t like each other very much. Obama was angry.”
Another Republican CNN panelist, David Gergen, said Mr. Romney looked more presidential.
A CNN focus group gave Mr. Obama the win, 46 percent to 39 percent, but over on Fox, a big majority of members of a focus group of former Obama supporters told pollster Frank Luntz in a voice vote that Mr. Romney was the clear winner.
Still another focus group told CBS News that Mr. Obama won, 37 percent to 30 percent for Mr. Romney, with 33 percent calling it a tie.
Conservative blogger Eric Erickson scored the debate even: “My take: Obama exceeded his prior performance, but Romney’s hits on Obama’s records make it a draw, at best, which helps Romney.”