I don’t think the debate will change much in the polls, and those without the money are not going to gain some by tonight’s performance. Obama surely gains when the debaters end up shouting at each other and forget about the present mess. Cain took a lot of hits that scored. Here’s a quick take.
Romney: I think he won the weird crossfires with Perry: a) illegal aliens working on his property were hired by contractors, not him personally (most recognize the difference); b) Perry’s ad hominem came off too calculated and studied rather than an ad hoc jousting point. He scored points for being above the fray, and parried all the blows pretty well. Along with Gingrich and Santorum, he seems to have the best command of the facts, and is doing a good job presenting a certain presidential calm. He is often aware that the debate is being watched by independents as well as the base. When he survives these sharp attacks, he gets better — much better than in 2008. The flashof anger at Perry was a sort of Reagan “I’m paying for this” moment.