Washington: President Barack Obama is still ahead in national polls even as critics across media and snap polls declared Republican challenger Mitt Romney the winner in their first presidential debate.
In the first of the three debates Wednesday in Denver, Colorado, ahead of the Nov 6 poll, commentators suggested Romney`s performance was energetic and poised while the president seemed subdued and occasionally testy.
Several noted that Obama did not mention Romney-founded Bain Capital exporting jobs to India and China nor his rival`s controversial quote that "47 percent" of Americans were "moochers" even once, according to a compilation by the Political Bulletin, a news aggregating site.
Though neither candidate was seen delivering a knockout blow, many agree with CNN that Romney "dominated" the debate, it said citing a CNN survey which found 67 percent of viewers calling Romney the winner, the highest by any candidate since 1984.
Meanwhile, a CBS poll showed 46 percent calling Romney the winner to Obama`s 22 percent.
Immediate television reaction too favoured Romney with NBC calling Romney "energetic", "aggressive" and "crisp". Obama, on the other hand, appeared "listless and flat and uninspired", as ABC put it.
Romney "took the offensive ... forcing President Obama to defend his record in a series of sharp exchanges," wrote the Washington Post while Obama "appeared on the defensive at times over his record".
"If Romney`s goal was to show that he could project equal stature to the president, he succeeded, perhaps offering his campaign the lift that Republicans have been seeking," said the influential New York Times.
USA Today said the president "sometimes seemed annoyed and defensive" while Romney "was energetic, focused and relentlessly on message".
Meanwhile, an average of recent polling on the presidential race by a top political analytical site, `The RealClearPolitics`, showed Obama ahead 48.9 percent to Romney`s 45.4 percent.
RCP`s electoral map shows the Obama/Biden ticket leading in states totalling 265 electoral votes, just five short of the 270 required for victory in the 538-member Electoral College. Romney/Ryan ticket had 191 votes while 82 were too close to call.