Romney pluses: Stated clearly and (for now) kept to his positions confidently, even aggressively. Frequently interrupted and/or ignored the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, making it appear that Romney was in control of the debate.
Romney minuses: In spite of that, he didn't land a body blow, or even seriously sting President Obama, and he needed to do so tonight.
Obama pluses: He had facts on his side, and he stayed calm and composed in the face of Romney's incessant lies and attacks.
Obama minuses: He didn't call out Romney on the lies, letting a huge TV audience walk away from the event with the impression that Obama may not have the spine to stand up to Romney.
While the debate was a "win" for Romney, barely, the talking heads on the cable news networks think that this was a major "game changing" victory for Romney, and a brutal loss for Obama.
The problem with the talking heads is that they think like Washington insiders and expect that everyone else thinks the same way.
For them, the nuances of Simpson-Bowles, tax policy, and the deficit are the most vital topics of the day (and they certainly are important).
However, most parents with hearts will have a far more visceral reaction when their 3-year old cries -
"Mommy/Daddy! Please don't vote for the man who wants to kill Big Bird!"
I can't take credit for the following pics from my Facebook friends, but they may illustrate the real takeaway from the debate for most people -
"Obama went after bin Laden; Romney is going after Big Bird".