I gather from brief glances at Twitter and initial reaction at NBC that Mitt won pretty big on style points.

A lot of progressives are beside themselves that Obama didn’t mention Bain Capital, didn’t mention the 47%, didn’t mention the Ryan Budget (except indirectly), didn’t mention inequality, didn’t mention abortion/contraception, didn’t mention immigration. Very heavy emphasis, as I noted, on Mitt’s “vagueness.”

Chuck Todd just adjudged it a clear win for Romney, and signs of poor preparation by Team Obama.

You know, I’m often a bad judge of these things because I really don’t give much of a damn about “energy levels” or “aggressiveness,” and I tend to care a lot when I know a candidate is lying through his or her teeth. But if viewers thought Obama was phoning it in, that will matter, and it will matter a lot more if they are being told by every talking head in Christendom that Romney won big.

The $64,000 question is whether this will have an impact on actual candidate preferences, which have been amazingly stable.

Watching the first surrogate up in the spin room, it’s Kelly Ayotte, and she seems near tears of joy.

Axelrod sticking to “vagueness” line. Concedes style points. Seems to be conceding debate, since he’s suggesting “buyer’s remorse” reaction later on. Brian Williams pressing him to forget about substance and view this as a “television presentation.”

One thing we can all agree on is that Lehrer was a terrible moderator tonight. No probing questions at all. No actual refereeing other than occasionally bitching about candidates getting prolix.

NBC folks now crowing about how substantive the debate was. If spending ten minutes on IPAB is your idea of “substance,” guess they’re right.

CBS instapoll has Romney winning by 46-22. The margin will go up after media coverage. I haven’t looked at MSNBC tonight, but apparently they (and especially Chris Mathews) are hating on Obama more than the Fox folks.

Clearly, talking heads are ecstatic that they’ve got a renewed “horse race” instead of a bleeding challenger.

I’ll sign off til morning. I haven’t had time to look at comments tonight, but am interested in reader reactions to the whole show. And remember: “Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of this endless election cycle.”


Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.