Adding a bit of confirmation to my analysis earlier today are the numbers from the first post-debate poll done by Ipsos/Reuters. First of all, the top line number shows that Romney made gains and Obama held his own (results from the previous poll in parenthesis).
Obama 48 (48)
Romney 43 (39)
But its WHERE Romney made his gains that is even more interesting. Markos has the charts here, but I'll give you the summary.
Obama's favorables were unchanged from before to after the debate...56/44 (favorable/unfavorable) and Romney's went up: pre-debate 46/54 to post-debate 51/49. But the critical issue is that his improvement mostly came from Republicans. He was at 44/56 with Independents both before and after the debate.
Obama on the other hand, held steady with Democrats but went up significantly with Independents: pre-debate 46/54 to post-debate 54/46.
In case you're mathematically inclined, you might be wondering why the top line for Obama stayed the same when he obviously won support from Independents. That is likely explained by the fact that there were fewer Democrats in the post-debate sample.
Its not insignificant that the debate brought some life back to Romney's campaign with Republicans. Who knew that etch-a-sketching his slate clean from so much pandering to the base would actually help him win back the Party faithful?
But in the end, it won't be nearly enough. He needed to make a dent with those Independents. And on that front he failed. Obama took them...big time.
So just remember that while all the bleating goes on amongst the pundits and partisans about what a lousy job President Obama did last night.