The third and final Presidential took place Monday night.
A few not especially insightful observations:
Because the primary topic of the debate was foreign policy, this debate seemed less important. The most important issue in the minds of voters is the economy. And the most important issue Romney accentuates on the campaign trail is the economy. Only the recent tragedy in Libya elevated foreign affairs into the public
Moreover, unless some extremely divisive issue arises overseas (like the war in Viet Nam during the 1960s,) most candidates share a general consensus about American security. Candidates tend toward agreement and quarrel over the details.
Consequently, all Romney really had to do was agree, specify some differences in the details, and avoid any egregious errors.
On all three of those grounds, Romney proved a success. ( I write this with some reservations. I wanted a candidate that disagreed with the interventionism and nation building that too many in both parties embrace. But it did lead to Romney's best barb: "we don't dictate to nations; we free nations from dictators."
Of course, winning a debate requires more than just ideas. It also involves organization, presentation, and rhetoric. Obama scored on rhetorical flourish with comments about the "1980s are calling" and "we also have fewer horses and bayonets." This revealed the aggressive stance lacking in the first debate. I was not certain how Romney would handle that kind of pressure. I wondered if he might tackle Obama and cut his hair. Romney remained poised, however, and kept on message. As opportunities presented themselves, he turned the foreign policy debate back to the economy, the topic that concerns most voters.
Obama won the debate in most viewers eyes, but it seemed to be unraveling a bit now that the fact checkers began focusing attention on Obama's comments about "bayonets and horses," sequestration, and the auto bail out.
It may be too late to stop Romney's momentum.