First of all, one report after another suggests that Romney didn't move the needle last night, or didn't move it much:
* Priorities USA's Colorado focus group of "weak Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but who remain open to switching" thought Romney wasn't specific last night; they warmed somewhat to his tax ideas, but "there was a doubling in the number of respondents who said that Obama has good ideas for improving the economy.... 63% of respondents said at the end that Obama expressed good ideas for improving the economy, compared with 27% who said the same about Romney...."
* In a focus group of independents on MSNBC, not one switched to Romney after the debate. (Hat tip: Never Ben Better in comments.)
* In another Colorado focus group of undecideds assembled by pollster Stan Greenberg, Romney gained somewhat -- 27% leaned his way before the debate, 44% afterward. But Obama held his ground -- 30% or 31% before (the link is ambiguous), 33% afterward. I read that as a 15-point swing -- but translated nationwide, it suggests that, if something like 5% of voters are undecided, Romney's getting less than a 1% gain. And that's in the immediate afterglow of the debate, which will wear off by Election Day.
* Oh, and if you believe this sort of thing is meaningful, Twitter comments about Romney leaned extremely negative last night, while comments about Obama leaned positive.
Beyond that, Obama had built up a bigger cushion than we thought before the debate: Gallup shows him up by 4 over Romney today (that's averaged over the seven pre-debate days), while his approval rating (over the three pre-debate days) has leaped to 54 percent.
Which tells me he's got the goodwill, and Romney still hasn't. I don't think that'll be changed by last night's debate, in which Romney was less mean-spirited than he usually is but more mean-spirited than he should have been if he wants to win.
And today, Obama's getting off the zingers:
"When I got onto the stage I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney," Obama told the crowd of some 12,000. "It couldn't have been Mitt Romney. The real Mitt Romney has bveen running around the country the last year promising 5 trillion for the wealthy... the fellow on stage [said] he didn't know anything about that."There's also going to be a new series of ads:
... Obama ... took to painting Romney as a figure to be mocked, not feared. In his Denver speech, he jabbed back at Mitt Romney's statement from last night's debate that the former governor would take away funding for PBS's Sesame Street Show, despite his fondness for Big Bird.
"Thank goodness somebody is getting tough on Big Bird," he said to laughs....
The first in that wave, titled "trust," focuses on Romney's hotly-contested claim that he doesn't back a $5 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years....Romney is still a guy with a sleazy reputation. Obama is still a guy most non-wingnuts trust. So I don't feel as bad today as I did last night.
“If we can’t trust him here," asks the narrator, as a picture of the debate stage switches to an image of the Oval Office, "How could we ever trust him here?”