Obama began very nervously. His reference to his anniversary should have been a home run; his delivery was limp and got a poor response. He is less fluent than Romney at explaining complicated points. Where he is fluent, he seems to be remembering a model answer from rehearsal. He’s not obviously failing, but he’s certainly not sounding like someone who’s been president for four years.
Romney began very strongly; he wobbles occasionally when he gets anxious and speeds up. When he remembers to go slow, he’s effective. Romney is good at making positive points, but he’s better at responding to the president’s arguments. He sounds genuinely knowledgeable about the points at issue — his response on the oil and gas industry was terrific. He needs to restrain his aggression very slightly, but in general he is sounding authoritative.
It’s early days, but so far Romney is ahead on points.