Who Won the Presidential Debate?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Before President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney concluded their first debate on Wednesday, some pundits and journalists already had determined a victor.

TheStreet spoke to experts from different fields to gauge who they thought really won the debate, and here's what they had to say in their own words. TheStreet also looked at the takes from pundits and writers from other news outlets.

Arnie Arnesen, former New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee:

"I thought Obama was both lackluster and unprepared. And look, I've done debates -- I've run for Congress, I've run for governor -- and given the format they were describing ... what you saw with Mitt, what you didn't see with Obama is that Mitt came prepared with stories and numbers. He was almost like poetry; it was almost musical his ability to respond. And Obama had no stories and very few numbers and he didn't push Mitt Romney. ...We know that Obama is rusty, he's been in the presidential bubble for four years. Everybody takes care of him. ... Look at health care: Who do we know that is the most sensitive about the health care plan, who cares more about health care than anyone else? Women. Did you hear Obama appeal to women once? Not once. Not once."

Doug Preisse, Franklin County, Ohio Republican Party Chairman:

"My phone has been blowing up since about 20 to 30 minutes into the debate, even sort of moderate minded Republicans that I know were texting me saying, 'Wow,' they can't believe how poorly the president was doing, and, I think, how well Romney -- I mean gosh he could have stepped out of what the perceived character is, and was just strong and tough and articulate and consistent and bold. ... I think this was a classic case where an incumbent plays cautious and underperforms. And then the partisan in me also wants to believe this is a case where a guy with not much to sell has a hard time talking about why he should be re-elected. ... He Romney is still behind in Ohio, but can be taken much more credibly on the issues, and I think also much more embraced and warmly as a viable, logical alternative to this president."

Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com:

"What I think people are really looking for right now is, you know, most futures are a little bit up ... they were up moderately, but at this point I think people are factoring in more than anything else is, they're factoring in a presidential re-election based on the polls. I don't think there was anything earth-changing in this debate that really changed the current trend. ... More likely the debate was a draw. ... I think basically the president was able to hit more emotional buttons, at the same time the governor had a pretty good command on facts. ... Right now it's almost like the president just has to maintain the status quo and avoid making a mistake, whereas Gov. Romney has to do two things: avoid making a mistake, and also he has to basically ... has to radically change the game. So at that point, Romney didn't really score either of those two things. In terms of economically, their all kind of speaking what I call talking points."

Maegan Stephens, doctoral candidate in political communications at the University of Texas at Austin:

"My first impression was, wow, they really can't follow rules about time, they just have an inability to shorten their responses and listen when a moderator tells them they only have two minutes to speak. ... My second impression was that Romney really came out with some more personality; I mean if I had to give a speaker award in that debate it's going to Romney for sure. He was engaging, and dynamic, and forceful, and I think a side of him we generally don't see in a lot of his speeches or even media events ... and to compare that to Obama who seemed sort of defensive and, oh I hate to say it, lackluster. Even in the first five or 10 minutes I was thinking, 'Is he going to turn it on?' and it never really seemed to get there. ... The third impression was content based. They both needed to do a lot more with specifics. ... I feel like Obama had a lot of opportunities to ask for specifics in Romney's plan, and while he vaguely mentioned there was a lack of specifics, he didn't say 'So give me something, I'm not responding until you give me an answer.' ... Stylistically, absolutely Romney gave a stellar performance. Content-wise, I'd have to say no, because I didn't hear specifics."

Here's what a few other publications were saying Thursday about the debate.

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith:

"But Romney's core success was that he won by not losing: He has barely weathered a campaign that reduced him to a smaller figure than President Obama. On stage, they were roughly the same size."

Politico's Maggie Haberman:

"The debate was relatively sleepy, and there were no fireworks or big 'moments' to speak of, but Romney scored on points against a barely-there incumbent."

The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger:

"Barack Obama showed the dangers and risks of presidential incumbency. For all the powers of the office, the U.S. presidency inevitably causes the person holding it to place outsized belief and faith in the correctness of his own policies and ideas. In a word, hubris. It has happened before."

The New York Times editorial:

"The Mitt Romney who appeared on the stage at the University of Denver seemed to be fleeing from the one who won the Republican nomination on a hard-right platform of tax cuts, budget slashing and indifference to the suffering of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. And Mr. Obama's competitive edge from 2008 clearly dulled, as he missed repeated opportunities to challenge Mr. Romney on his falsehoods and turnabouts."

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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