Who Won Last Nights Debate: Obama vs Romney in First Presidential Debate

Three debates, two men, and one Grand Old Party. To say that the campaign season thus far has been bruising would be almost as big of an understatement as claiming Herman Cain probably wasn’t going to be president.

In one corner, the incumbent, Barack Obama. The Obama campaign has successfully turned the narrative of this election from one of a referendum on the president’s policies to a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the country. Obama’s message of unity and “economic patriotism” seems to be resonating with voters more than Romney’s message of … well, is anyone really sure what Mitt Romney’s message is nowadays?

Having seen a noticeable rise in polling, especially in swing states, President Obama’s main goal is to keep his momentum going. Watch for a workman-like performance that builds on the narrative Democrats have woven about Mitt Romney over the past couple of months. Obama has had issues in the past connecting with voters by coming off as too professorial, so brief answers and one-liners are a must in the first debate.

The challenger, Mitt Romney, has some work to do. The debates are a make or break moment for the former governor and it doesn’t help that Republican pundits have been raising the expectations for his performance in recent weeks.  

Despite participating in more than 20 debates during the primary season, Romney is very prone to gaffes and seems to enjoy reminding voters about his wealthy upbringing (remember when he bet Rick Perry $10,000 like it was chump change?). In order to make the debates impactful Romney needs to really push an agenda and vision for the nation beyond “job creation” and “Obama is bad.” In Michigan specifically, Romney needs to clarify a number of issues surrounding his comments on the auto industry, which he might have some trouble doing given the facts.

Romney’s campaign thus far has relied mainly on falsified/exaggerated claims and a shocking amount of flip-flopping. It’ll be interesting to see whether he is able to maneuver himself out of the hole of ideological extremism he’s dug for himself without perjuring himself in front of millions of Americans.

So now we find ourselves coming down the final stretch, the two candidates slandered beyond recognition yet unwilling to succumb to the mental and physical hardships of the campaign trail. 

PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates bookmark and refresh this page. 

UPDATES: 

9:16 -- How can you disagree with a tax plan when you've never proposed one? Mitt Romney is a wordsmith.

9:13 -- Mitt Romney wants clean coal. Clean coal is a myth.

9:10 -- Mitt Romney said Obama is crushing the middle class. Throwing down the gauntlet early.

9:07 -- Mitt Romney to the American people: "We need jobs" American people: "We know."

9:04 -- Barack just called me sweetie. #swooning

9:01 -- We're going hard on China right now. At least somebody is. http://pic.twitter.com/0bWbLYWy

8:50 -- Grover Norquist played a key role in the obstructionism of the 112th Congress. Will his name make an appearence tonight? pic.twitter.com/WGtgsNG3

8:42 -- Watching Baracka Flocka Flame. Hope President Obama brings this much swag to the debate tonight: http://ow.ly/ecIVj

8:38 -- A little info to set the stage: The debate is being watched in a quaint Ann Arbor home deep in middle-America; the archtype of the American dream. "I'm glad to be here. There's no debate about that." - Emmet Pruss