Here are my reactions to it, unbiased by any pundit because I haven't yet watched or listened to or read any "analysis." I recommend you do the same: watch the debate video yourself before even reading my impressions, let alone those in the media! Don't be sheep, led by the pundits. Make your own opinion.
Romney and Obama both did well. That means the liberal media will say Obama won. I think it's more complicated than that. Romney, as usual, took the time to rebut any argument against him or his record while still punching at Obama's dismal record. Obama, however, didn't bother to defend his record where it couldn't be defended. He made no mention of his record with the deficit, spending, or Fast and Furious. He made no mention of why he didn't do so many things he had promised in his 2008 campaign. Some of his other rebuttals didn't make much sense or match up with his record, like on immigration. Sometimes he dodged questions altogether, while Romney did a better job of generally staying on point.
Romney was smart, in the closing question, to bring up that he cares about 100% of Americans, but Obama had the last word and didn't even bother to answer the question, instead focusing on the completely out-of-context 47% remark of Romney's. This is the only time he could have brought this up. He knows as well as Romney that Romney can completely defend that statement by putting the context back into it!
Romney also did a great job on the economy and beat Obama squarely whenever that was the topic, which was most of the time. When the economy was not the topic, Obama usually won, with the help of the moderator. Libya Romney should not have lost, but I think he did because of the way he phrased his comment and the way the president combined with the moderator went after him.
Obama kept coming back to education being the answer to all America's problems again, not understanding (apparently) that teacher jobs are public jobs and not part of the employment solution in this country. You see, teachers are paid through taxpayer money. That means there has to be taxpayer money - taken from the private sector - to pay them, and every other government worker. The big problem with Obama's administration has been the stifling of the private sector, including "lowering" the unemployment by millions of people leaving the labor force entirely. Romney/Ryan is right: that is not what a real recovery looks like. Obama sent a lot of mixed messages last night, meaning that his rhetoric doesn't match up with his actions. At all.
The audience (in Long Island) was obviously more friendly overall to Obama given what they laughed at during the debate. That said, the moderator did a pretty good job of selecting questions from people who had real questions for both Obama and Romney.
Obama's demeanor was lightyears away from the first debate. I don't know if it was because of a friendly crowd with which to guage himself, but whatever the reason he acted how people remember him in 2008. EXCEPT that he dodges questions on his record now. Has no answer, most of the time. Ignores those questions completely. Tries to make it about Romney instead of about his record or lack thereof. The moderator didn't really call him out on that, though she gave Romney much less wiggle room in his answers - not that he was off topic as much as Obama.
In the beginning, I'd say both men seemed even. In the middle, Romney was ahead overall because the topics heavily focused on the economy. In the end, Obama left with the last word which he turned into an anti-Romney attack more than a vision of what Obama can do for America - which was completely defensible by Romney. In that sense, that attack is the only one that Romney did not send packing and Obama was left the winner. But those are cheap tactics.
In conclusion, Romney won on substance. Obama won on style. A dirty style, but a style nonetheless. His fans oughtta be pretty happy with him now. It will be interesting to see if this debate makes a net difference in the polls heading into the third debate. I suspect it won't make a huge difference, because both men did well and if Americans are paying attention to substance they'll still prefer Romney.
As they prepare for the third debate, which should cover foreign policy in more depth, Romney has a big chance to double down on Obama's failures in that area. The one or two questions relating to foreign policy last night didn't really hit Obama hard in the end. Romney should improve on that for the third debate.
I was somewhat surprised that Romney didn't hit at the media bias directly. He had several opportunities, but phrased it as questions about why it took so long for people to hear about certain events in Obama's presidency, and blamed the Obama campaign for people getting a false idea of his character, even though the blame lies just as heavily with American media. He's going to have to hit more directly to make significant gains, I'm guessing.
Now I'll read what other people have to say, not to be led but to point out to me some things I may have missed otherwise.
*** I forgot to say that Obama lied through his teeth like his life depended on it! The average American wouldn't know. I, however, read both sides. So I knew he was lying. I wanted to slap him out of it! Click here for the most egregious ones.