So, thats it. The most momentous debate season in the recent history of presidential elections has come and gone.
The debates managed to (at least briefly) change the races narrative. But they ended with a whimper.
This last face-off in particular might not make much of a difference due to the simple fact that it was so boring. With the exception of a few memorable lines, even dedicated news junkies were likely counting down the minutes until it was all over.
For whatever its worth though, theres little doubt among the pundits that President Obama won this round.
That doesnt mean he managed to trounce Mitt Romney as readily as some Democrats would like to believe. After all, everyone expects the president to have a better handle on foreign policy and Romney didnt just successfully pull off the looking-presidential bit, he also avoided getting pushed to the right and coming off as a warmonger, probably the one thing that could have really hurt him with undecideds.
For more, lets get to the pundits.
The key to analyzing the debate properly is understanding what each candidates goals were. Romney was trying to position himself as a centrist alternative, Obama was trying to win.
In a sense, they both succeeded, writes Jonathan Chait in New York. The National Journals Ron Fournier agrees with that overall analysis, saying that while Obama won Monday nights debate on points, Romney held his own, meaning that the state of the race is likely unchanged.
Still, that doesnt change the overall conclusion that this was a one-sided win for Obama, as the Atlantics James Fallows writes, adding that Romney put up his worst showing. Times Joe Klein agrees, noting that Obama won cleanly and decisively, on both style and substance. Its not just that it was a strong debate for Obama, writes Klein, it was a clever one.
While Romney is winning praise in conservative circles for his generally restrained performance, theres also some frustration that he didnt at the very least try to put more of an emphasis on highlighting his differences with the president.
It was often painful to watch Romney blur the difference between them, writes the National Reviews Jonah Goldberg. Still, I think he was smart not to take the bait.
Several conservative-leaning commentators have been quick to say that Obamas aggressiveness was evidence that he is worried.
The presidents visible frustration tonight suggests he knows he is losing, writes Ed Rogers in the Washington Post.
Yet the presidents frustrations may have had more to do with frustration that he went to the debate ready to argue against statements Romney had made on the campaign trail but greatly softened on the Florida stage.
A viewer who hadnt tuned into the campaign before Monday night might have wondered what all the shouting was about, notes the Los Angeles Times.
Talking Point Memos Josh Marshall isnt buying attempts to defend Romneys performance. Romney looked pained and rambling through most of the debate, he writes. I dont think Ive ever seen Romney sweat like that, literally or figuratively.
It seems clear that if there were any real losers Monday night it was the voters. Not to mention all those watching across the globe who got a depressing view of what the men vying to be the next president think are the worlds most important issues.
The vast majority of the most consequential foreign policy matters (along with the worlds nations) were completely ignored in lieu of their same repetitive slogans on the economy, writes the Guardians Glenn Greenwald. In sum, it was a perfect microcosm of Americas political culture.