US Elections: What the voters say - our 2012 panel respond to last night's debate

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Cherlene Nerland, 37, Housewife, votes in Mississippi.

2008 - Did not vote

2012 - Undecided

Obama looked more “Presidential” and Romney at times had crazy eyes and a weird smirk on his face.

And I was dismayed by the fact that Romney said he was going to decrease the deductions and credits people claim on their taxes.  I already pay tax at double the rate of Romney.

Molly McCallum, 41. PHD student, votes in California.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Romney dominated by demonstrating higher energy and eagerness to speak. I was frustrated by Obama's inability or unwillingness to challenge statements that were half-truths (Romney's tax plan) or blatantly false (his health care arguments). Once again, Obama favours compromise, appearing reasonable and “above the fray.”

Diane Bergin, 44, Housewife. Votes in Florida.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - undecided

Mitt Romney won, hands down. He even looked Presidential. I was rather disappointed in Obama, who appeared flustered and rather bored. Romney also seemed more prepared to go on the offense, while President Obama was forced to defend himself on every topic. I'm still undecided, but now leaning towards Mitt.

Jamie Klingler, 34, Publishing Manager. Votes in Pennsylvania.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Obama did not come out swinging. He seems tired and subdued whereas Romney was on the attack, albeit an attack filled with inaccuracies. I wish that Obama had just quoted the video of the 47% as the answer to every question and let Romney hang himself with his own words.

Brian Slack, 28. Business Consultant, votes in Pennsylvania.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Mitt Romney was much more articulate in his message, was more direct & focused in his attacks, and frankly didn't stutter nearly as much.  So, point Romney.  The winner tonight certainly wasn't the debate format.  It suffered a serious blow to the head - with awful moderation, and almost constant interruption.

Anna Schwiessinger, 31. Client Services Coordinator, votes in California.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Romney won with a lot of help from the terrible moderating of Jim Lehrer. Lehrer interrupted the President, but failed to control Romney's responses. We still have no actual plan for any of his “plans”. And I'm still wondering how he can reduce the deficit by closing loopholes and not raising taxes.

Sandra Gross, 45. Copy editor, votes in Michigan.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

I think Romney is deceitful. He was, however, much more energized, while President Obama was flat. The President lacked the fight that I expected and that the American people need.  He bored us with long, dispassionate answers and neglected, in some cases, to argue the veracity of Romney's “facts.”

Clayton Bink, 52. Maintenance worker, votes in New York State.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

Romney won because he used facts to substantiate his arguments. Both men looked presidential and the “zinger” of the evening was when Romney called out Obama on the bogus talking point that companies that export jobs get a tax break.

Jake Duhaime, 28. Publicity and Special Projects manager, votes in Massachusetts.

2008 - did not vote

2012 - plans to vote: Romney

As a PR professional, I have admired the ability of the Obama campaign to simplify and control the political message during the last two election cycles. That being said, in a live debate format, with no teleprompter and a candidate ready to press him on issues, there is no place to hide.

Olivia Fahey, 19. Student, Wisconsin.

2008 - did not vote

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

This wasn't so much a debate as much as two people taking turns spouting off talking point after talking point. Jim Lehrer, the moderator, had hardly any control over the proceedings and the whole thing was somewhat disappointing.

Katie McKernan, 40, Stay at home mom, votes in Virginia.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

Romney was the clear winner. Obama was unable to even feign attention to what Romney had to say, appearing quite rude. Romney was also more agile than Obama, who employed the tired “what I inherited” meme, and seemed to be caught flat-footed when his opponent went on offense.

Brian Clutter, 30. IT Support Specialist, votes in Ohio.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

I was surprised by Obama's lack of passion, and while he and Romney went back and forth on some issues, I always felt Romney maintained the upper hand. He felt more like “the adult in the room,” while the President seemed disgruntled, and didn't make eye contact.  I will cringe once some social issues arrive in future debates, but for now Romney has my enthusiastic support.

Sam Miller, 33. Attorney, votes in Massachusetts.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

I went from supporting Romney for not being Obama to seeing an inspiring candidate who has much greater appeal.  You could hear in his voice how sincerely he wants to improve the country. Obama looked like he just woke up and seems lost without a teleprompter.  Aside from Obamacare, he had no interest in defending his record.

Andy Sorensen, 23. University Student, votes in Minnesota.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

This was an Obama I doubt many Americans, including myself, had seen before. Case in point: Obama's uninspired defense of Obamacare, which was his flagship policy. This has been your pet project, and you can't even muster the energy to be passionate about it? It was his charisma that got him votes in 2008, and a lack of it will cost him dearly in 2012.

Julie Nauslar, 42. Advertising Executive, votes in Texas.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney  

Romney seemed calmer and was very articulate. He really seemed to be having fun yet methodically discussed how he'd change the path of the country. Obama on the other hand, seemed to stumble with his words and have challenges getting his points across, constantly looking down, like he was taking notes or something.

Chris Sasso, 24. Business owner and entrepreneur, votes in New York.

2008 - Voted: McCain.

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

Color me impressed. I've been a supporter of Gov. Romney since I cast my primary vote for him in 2008. My support has not wavered since then, and my support has never been as fervent as it is after watching the governor clearly win this debate. It looked like he was the incumbent president, outfoxing an unprepared challenger.

DC Stultz, 72. Retired, votes in Florida.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Romney was definitely the aggressor in the debate. Did that make him the “winner”?  Not if the content of the aggression contains faulty assumptions, flip flops that will be walked back by his campaign the next day, and outright lies.

Ruben D. Sanchez, Jr., 40. Soldier in US Army National Guard/Flight Attendant, votes in Illinois.

2008 - Voted: McCain

2012 - Plans to vote: Romney

Romney exuded confidence and knowledge, and he successfully (and rightfully) put President Obama on the defensive, from which the President never recovered. Obama held his head down like a sad puppy. While Romney's answers were concise and succinct, Obama had nothing but “uh, uh, uh” to give the audience.

José Hernández-Lagunes, 36. University employee, votes in Illinois.

2008 - did not vote

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Romney was far more aggressive.  Obama seemed ill-prepared as he stumbled over words, particularly while discussing healthcare. But the biggest loser in the first debate was Jim Lehrer, who failed to actually moderate the debate. There were plenty of interruptions, questions were vague, and rambling was allowed at nearly every turn. Was there a winner? Well, if there was, it wasn't the voters.

Kathy Tobiassen, 54. Home-maker, votes in New York.

2008 - voted: Obama

2012 - plans to vote: Obama

Romney came very well prepared and was aggressive about making his points. I felt he was too aggressive... like a used car salesman trying to push his sale by talking fast and not letting you get a word in edgeways. As for body language and tone of voice, I felt that Romney seemed smug and Obama was peevish. Neither are qualities I want in a President.

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