Before right-wingers and right-wingers posing as fake independents (a LOT of them on the vine today) give themselves a torn rotator cuff from patting themselves on the back, they ought to remember that in the history of televised Presidential debates, which only stretches back 50 years or so, an overwhelming number of first debates appeared to give ground to a challenger, who LOST.
Reagan was largely derided as having lost his first debate against Carter. He won that election in a landslide. Also Reagan vs. Mondale, Round 1 didn't go so well for the eventual winner.
Bush v. Dukakis was a disaster for Bush.
Kerry v. Bush Il Deuce didn't go well either for Lil' Shrub.
Funny, I'm quoting examples all Republicans (and Republicans masquerading as independents) should know. But apparently they don't.
In the long game, Mitt destroyed much of his advantage last night by flip-flopping wildly, for the cameras, right before the elections. He now has to re-establish himself as Moderate Mitt, and he's got 30 days to do it, and convince us that Moderate Mitt is a better choice than Already-President Obama, and that he's not going to flip back as soon as he wins the election.
Because the real question is, who are we actually voting for? Mitt sure didn't answer that one last night.