Analysis: Obama Won the Debate, but Could Struggle for Momentum

By ABC News

Oct 17, 2012 2:32pm

Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama had reasons to be happy with their performance at the town hall debate in New York on Tuesday, but ABC News political director Amy Walter (@amyewalter) said President Obama was the clear winner.

Appearing on a post-debate stream from ABC News and Yahoo! News, Walter predicted the victory would not have as strong an impact on the race as Romney’s victory two weeks ago in Denver.

The morning after the presidential town hall debate, newspapers across the country published headlines praising Obama’s performance.

Top moments from the debate 

Pointing to moments in the exchange when he aggressively went after Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Walter said the president gave Democratic base voters exactly what they wanted to see.

“They went into this debate nervous,” because of Obama’s subdued performance at the prior debate in Denver, Walter said. “And what they saw from the minute that this debate started was a much more aggressive, much more engaged President Obama.”

Walter had praise for Romney, too.  She said he toned down his rhetoric during this debate to draw out a more moderate electorate.

Click here for ABC’s full debate fact check.

“That was the Mitt that he wanted those swing voters to see. I think he succeeded there.”

“But at the end of the day, the win goes to Obama, because, number one, he, I think, commanded the stage much more than Mitt Romney did – and, number two, because he was so different than the man that we saw a week or two weeks ago that that alone made him the winner,” Walter said.

Watch the full debate here.

Obama’s success might not be a game-changer for the president. A Gallup poll from halfway through October showed the Democrat leading among registered voters within the margin of error. Walter foresaw the race still mired in a tie at the end of the week and candidates turning to their bases to get voters out to the polls.

“I think that for President Obama, he’s revved up his base once again, but I don’t think this race is going to fundamentally change,” Walter said.

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