First Presidential Debate: Romney Wins Big

Political observers on the left and the right have finally found some common ground: They almost all agree that GOP standard bearer Mitt Romney decisively won last night’s presidential debate — even Bill Maher.

Huge Obama supporters and Romney foes on MSNBC such as Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz even conceded that Romney won big. “What was Romney doing? He was winning,” Matthews said among other things in the post-debate coverage.

Obama fan Andrew Sullivan, a Daily Beast columnist, admitted that “this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.”

The Washington Examiner summarizes the outcome:

‘The consensus, among press observers at least, was that Romney was sharper, more prepared, and more aggressive than Barack Obama. The president seemed all those things his aides said he was not: tired, rusty, and inexplicably laid back.’

A CNN flash poll revealed that 67 percent felt that Romney won to 25 percent for Obama, the highest favorability number the network ever recorded in a debate. The results of a CBS News instapoll similarly gave the win to Romney by 46 percent to 22 percent for Obama, and the rest said it was a tie.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, a frequent talking head on the cable news networks, gave Romney an A and Obama a C-minus for their debate performances, according to the New York Post:

“President Obama left his A game at the White House tonight; Mitt Romney won the debate, and it wasn’t particularly close.”

“Romney was more forceful in his answers, and the president missed several critical opportunities to counterattack. He didn’t even mention Romney’s ’47 percent’ line.”

“This was Obama’s worst debate performance ever.”

Post columnist John Podhoretz called the debate a “slaughter”:

“Mitt Romney put on the most commanding presidential debate performance of the insta-commentary era. One could literally watch, on Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of people on both sides of the political divide react in real time as the debate went on.”

‘Their reactions were identical, though their moods were not: As Romney dominated exchange after exchange with a surprisingly effective combination of pointed personal touches and remarkable factual preparation, conservatives and Republicans grew more and more jubilant while liberals and Democrats grew more and more alarmed.’

Even Bill Maher, who gave the Obama campaign a $1 million check, was unenthused:

Who do you think won last night’s presidential debate?