Post-debate instant polls declared Obama the clear winner: CBS's poll of undecided voters - Obama 53%, Romney 23%; CNN's poll of debate watchers - Obama 48%, Romney 40%; Public Policy's poll of swing state voters - Obama 53%, Romney 42%; Reuters poll - Obama 63%, Romney 33%.
The Mitt Romney that dominated the first debate with aggression and fire seemed to morph into the passive Obama of the first debate tonight, helping to make Obama the obvious winner (the instant polls, listed above, agreed). Not surprising, as incumbents usually are much more comfortable and authoritative in foreign policy debates than challengers, particularly challengers who are former Governors (as they have no previous real-life foreign policy experience). But outside of the few times he was able to pivot back to the economy, Romney seemed surprisingly passive tonight, given how contentious the last debate was. He often simply conceded points and agreed with Obama more than I can ever remember a challenger agreeing with an incumbent in a Presidential debate. This debate, at times, seemed like the President talking about foreign policy and some guy sitting on stage next to him agreeing with everything he said.