First I want to say that the "town hall" format may have made its last appearance, or certainly its last appearance for the time being. I don't know whether the pugnacious exchanges that began in earnest are a symptom of our politics in 2012, or more due to the fact that it is clear each gentleman has absolutely no respect for the other.
I thought Candy Crowley (and CNN by-proxy) did her (their) best to help Obama out. Practically all of the questions were softballs directed in the path of Obama, designed to put Romney on the back foot. Not to mention, a vast majority of the questions seemed unoriginal insomuch as they didn't exactly indicate "indecision" from those who were asking them. Her "help" on Libya where she asserted the President was "right" in calling the attack in Benghazi a terrorist attack, was inappropriate and devoid of the facts.
On the whole, I think the debate was a draw. Expectations were naturally low for Obama following the first debate, and while I think he did a markedly better job the second time around, he spent most of his time arguing against Romney, not laying out his vision for the next four years. Conversely, it was Mitt Romney who did the most looking ahead, though his best moments (and there were several-don't let the media fool you, today) were when he was prosecuting the President's dismal record over the last four years.
What should not get lost was the fact that though most "insta-polls" had given Obama the "win" in each of them, practically the same amount of people thought the debate was "a draw." I have come away thinking it was a draw-with Obama taking the style points, and Romney taking the points on substance.
I am not sure if last night will serve to shift momentum back into the President's favor. If anything, Romney did a good job in continuing to prosecute the President's record, even though that will get lost in media coverage today.
The President has to get to 50 percent support in polls in the swing states if he is going to win. Right now he's not really close, and Romney is gaining on him. I don't see last night's debate changing the current trajectory. The debate was feed for each party's base to chomp on, not much more.
The American voting public typically does not like to see its politicians verbally sparring with each other over anything, and that is all they got in last night's debate. There are 20 days left until election day, and I think this thing will go down to the wire, and I don't think the third debate matters much, if at all in shaping people's opinions of these candidates.
Bottom line? After last night, I think there are probably fewer undecided voters in America. The question is who those undecideds are breaking for...