I generally prefer to read transcripts of debates but I watched it last night for some reason, which afforded me the chance to ponder Obama's tendency to look down like he was a boy being scolded, but mostly the benefit from watching it came from seeing that it wasn't as bad for Obama as everyone said. Even Obama adviser Axelrod said Romney would gain 1 to 3 points. The pundits seem most outraged that elected officials had a debate over policy, when they only know how to talk about style points and 'who's up who's down.' The result is that the public saw a debate where the two candidates explained their policies and let the viewers choose between them, something that Obama counted on.
Certain tactics to reinforce the perception that Romney was an unpresidential snake oil salesman were not used, which certainly allowed Romney to possibly raise his positives. Playing it safe comes naturally for Obama and he's winning the polls in swing states by a lot. When the pundits repeat the narrative "why didn't he talk about the '47% line'?", they're talking themselves about the '47% line.' Obama is taking the risk that independent voters may have heard that already and that his surrogates will make those points. Romney put forth the comical notion that he opposed Dodd-Frank because it protected the too big to fail banks. I sympathize a little with Obama the Debater because where do you start with that BS without losing your cool. Dodd-Frank is window dressing that Romney opposed because he opposes all Wall Street regulation.
Obama could have corrected Romney on a lot of the inaccuracies that come continually out of his and Ryan's mouth, and his failure to do so may suggest too much time spent on his Executive Branch hobby. The Republicans have managed to create confusion over the scare tactic that Obamacare would eliminate Medicare Advantage and senior citizens in that program are worried. Political articles I've read take dictation from both parties without factchecking. The business page will tell you that since the Supreme Court approval of Obamacare, the insurance industry has been investing large amounts of money on Medicare Advantage, with the expectation that the only changes in the program will be tied to inflation as in previous years. Obama should have definitely rebutted that because Romney's lie is trying to counter the critique of Ryan's plan, but Obama at least talked about the Ryan plan a bit. Romney exaggerated the failure of Green Energy loans (only 3 companies out of 26 went bankrupt, not "about half") but it forced him to emphasize his opposition to those loans which may come back to bite him.
An economic debate between Obama and Romney begins with the poll numbers that say Romney knows more about the economy and Obama is more concerned about people like them. Romney worked hard to change the second impression and Obama made a half-hearted attempt to rebut that. What the pundits miss is that that gives something for Obama to prove as well as Romney. Obama looked knowledgeable about economic policy and didn't want to take the risk of pointing to Romney and telling the truth about him, hoping they get that somewhere else.