Who Won the Second Debate? Pundits Suggest Obama Edged 'No Game-Changer' Presidential Face-Off

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(Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)President Barack Obama showed more punch in his second debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Making up for his lackluster performance in the first debate, he likely re-energized the supporters who worried that another poor debate would end his chances of getting re-elected.

President Barack Obama came out with more aggression in his second debate against Republican opponent Mitt Romney on Tuesday evening. The showing looked to counter the negativity surrounding his first performance two weeks ago where he was criticized for a passive and sluggish display.

According to a CBS instant poll taken after the debate those thinking Obama won accounted for 37 percent, where as 30 percent claimed Romney won. The other 33 percent called the face-off a dead tie.

However, revealingly 65 percent of those surveyed in the same poll thought Romney could do a better job handling the economy and taxes, which could potentially reveal more than simply who was more impressive on the stage on the night.

Meanwhile, according to a CNN/ORC International poll of 457 registered voters who watched the nationally televised event, 46 percent of those surveyed said Obama won compared with 39 percent for Romney. The poll, however, did have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, and shows the contest was a much closer affair than the first debate a fortnight ago.

The conventional line touted by most pundits on Wednesday morning was that the debate was no game-changer, even if most suggested Obama had the edge overall in the second debate.

Mark Halperin of Time Magazine, who is the co-author of "Game Changer," said Wednesday on "Morning Joe" that had not heard anything "compelling" on what the debate would do for the presidential race or for shifting undecided voters toward either candidate.

Halperin indicated he thought the contest was a tie, and criticized Obama for not laying out any specific agenda for a second term in the White House.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer said Obama "did today what he avoided doing, what he failed to do during the first debate -- namely, go on the offensive. He came out swinging and he didn't stop."

Blitzer conceded though that Romney too "had his moments."

Chris Wallace of Fox News said, "I think it certainly stopped the bleeding in the Obama campaign, and, for that, they're going to be very happy."

Pulitzer Prize-winning political commentator, Charles Krauthammer, said that he thought Romney had missed a "huge opening" to corner Obama over the attacks in Libya, and overall he felt that Obama had probably won "on points."

MSNBC were predictably overwhelmingly praising of Obama's performance. Rachel Maddow insisted, "This was probably, I think, the best debate of Barack Obama's career as a national politician."

Meanwhile, Ron Fournier of the National Journal said, "The president aggressively criticized Romney, labeling him a hypocrite and a liar who favors the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor.

"But Romney got his licks in, too, wrapping a miserable economy around the incumbent's neck. 'The middle class is getting crushed by the policies of a president who does not understand what it takes to get the economy working again,' Romney said."

Fournier concluded: "Bottom line - Obama and Romney scored points while turning off independent voters with their point-scoring. Democratic and Republican partisans will find reason to celebrate the debate but it likely did nothing to reshape the closely fought race."