And there's no doubt the atmosphere of the second debate will be much different. Town hall formats usually play to liberals' and demagogues' advantage, with fawning audiences applauding every nod toward socialism. Not only that, but moderator Candy Crowley has indicated that she plans on being proactive, despite an agreement between the two campaigns that she is to have a neutral role.
Though Mitt will have his work cut out for him, too, I view him as the odds-on favorite to prevail again.
As a debate opponent, Obama is made to order for Mitt. Obama is very weak on policy details -- a weakness based on years of promoting the "big ideas" and leaving the unglamorous nuts and bolts to others -- and Romney is especially strong. No matter how much he prepares or strategizes, he can't make up for years of inattention to detail and insulation from reality.
Romney is quicker on his feet than Obama. Obama is long on cliches and short on specifics. Obama is such a dogmatic ideologue he is blind to his policy failures. He's oblivious to the reality that his endless expansions of government have injured, rather than healed, the economy and that his quixotic policies of appeasement are making us weaker, so he misinterprets evidence of his policy failures as proof that he just didn't go far enough or that his policies haven't had enough time to work.
Obama is woefully inexperienced in the private sector -- in the real world, apart from politics -- and Romney has vast business experience.
Having been coddled and humored by his advisers, Obama is not in tune with his strengths and weaknesses or with the quality of his performances, as shown by his delusional belief that he won the first debate and that the transcript reinforces that fantasy. This further demonstrates that he doesn't understand the issues intimately enough to overcome his weaknesses in time for the second debate.
Obama still believes his best weapon is that he cares more than
"47 percent" Mitt -- the rich, greedy capitalist -- about the downtrodden.
But Obama's policies have devastated most of those he professes to care the most about, and Mitt gives 30 percent of his income to charity. If Obama overplays the class warfare card, I think it just might backfire on him as much as his newfound aggressiveness.
In short, Obama's tired tricks don't work well against Romney, and Romney's formidable strengths particularly expose Obama's shortcomings.
Though anything can happen, especially in the town hall format, I think Mitt will win it again going away.