Romney won the debate by a mile. It doesn't matter that he was lying through his teeth, compromising the hard right values he's had to pander to throughout this campaign, actually conceding a lot of policy points to Obama, and acting like a first class prick to the deer caught in the headlights that was Jim Lehrer (although Obama wasn't much better), because all the people in his base who are nervous about him are going to care about is that he came across as strong, tough, direct, vital, and not awkward and robotic. He commanded the stage, literally, and looked presidential. It was a total victory of style over substance, but that was enough for this first debate, where it will build confidence amongst people who can't stand Obama regardless, but weren't thrilled about Romney either.
Obama has always had a problem with excessive use of verbal crutches (ummms and ahhhs) and pauses, which is indicative of carefully considering his words during an interview or speech, but here it just came off as indecisive and stalling for time. When he wasn't absentmindedly nodding his head at everything Romney said (which is a good technique to show that you're engaged and interested on a date, but not in a debate), he spent far too much time looking down at his notes on the podium. Plus, by the time he got around to making his point half the time he was gone way over the two minute limit, so he had to bully Lehrer around as well.
If one were to look solely at the facts presented by both candidates in text form without all the extraneous pauses, ummms, and "zingers," Obama would have won in my opinion, because much of Mitt's claims won't pass the smell test. But from a total presentation standpoint, Mitt dominated. I was expecting him to win the debate, because the challenger usually wins the first debate by virtue of simply holding their own against the incumbent and not coming across like an idiot, but I was not expecting this Mitt Romney to show up. This is probably the one and only time this comparison will ever be used about these two candidates for obvious reasons, but Mitt was the Harlem Globetrotters to Obama's Washington Generals this time out. Obama will hopefully be much improved next time (plus, it's a town hall format, which is more his speed).