Former Gov. Mitt Romney looked less like a "frontrunner" and more like a man on the attack Wednesday night, emerging as the winner of the first presidential debate, according to participants in the area's "Red Twin Cities" and "Blue Twin Cities" surveys, conducted by Patches around the Minneapolis and St. Paul suburbs and exurbs.
The "flash" style polls were conducted just hours after the debate from Denver came to close.
Obama "missed his opporunity," according to one Democractic member of our panels. Another called him "rusty" in his first debate since winning two of the three presidential debates back in 2008.
Demcocrats were defensive of the president, not surprisingly. However, more than half of our pollsters said Mitt Romney won the night by a slim margin, with only two of our members saying Barack Obama won the night.
Half were neutral, with one saying Obama "had more substance" but Romney "had more fight."
"President Obama did not go after Mitt Romney on his lack of clarity on the Key Issues like the spending cuts, bank regulations and health care," said a DFLer.
Republicans were quick to say Romney was the clear-cut winner, with Minnesota GOPers lining up to say the candidate "looked like a true conservative" and "refuted" many of Obama's claims.
Of our respondents to the poll, done immediately after the debate, 75 percent said they felt Romney won by a slim to wide margin. The remaining 25 percent were neutral, or thought it was a draw. None of the Republicans felt their candidate lost the night.
A high point was "Romney going after Obama’s subsidies for green energy, which could have instead hired teachers," an influencer said.
The Road Ahead
Republicans think Romney needs to keep it up in order to "have a chance" on the first Tuesday of November.
"America got to see Romney's grasp of the obvious [issues]," one Republican sated.
Another said Romney needs as good of a performance in the next two debates, set for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.
"He needs to come out ahead," the political influencer added.
Democrats thought the debate probably tightened a race that had been tilting Obama's way in most polls last month. Half said the debate did not increase his chances of winning.
Still, the message needs to spread, Democrats said, that Romney's debate points differed from his campaign points.
"Look at what he's saying on the campaign vs. what he said last night. Totally different," one said.