Opinion

Obama won the debate but is losing the argument

  • FiOCTOBER 16:  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama talk to each other during a town hall style debate at Hofstra University October 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York. During the second of three presidential debates, the candidates fielded questions from audience members on a wide variety of issues.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    FiOCTOBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama talk to each other during a town hall style debate at Hofstra University October 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York. During the second of three presidential debates, the candidates fielded questions from audience members on a wide variety of issues. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)  (2012 Getty Images)

  • FILE: Oct. 16, 2012.: President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

    FILE: Oct. 16, 2012.: President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.  (AP)

  • El presidente Barack Obama y el candidato republicano Mitt Romney discuten durante el segundo debate presidencial en la universidad de Hofstra, el martes 16 de octubre de 2012, en Hempstead, Nueva York. Romney se mostró el martes a favor de que los hijos de inmigrantes sin la debida documentación cuenten con una opción para obtener la residencia permanente y reprochó al presidente Barack Obama por no haber cumplido su promesa electoral de reformar las leyes migratorias. (AP foto/David Goldman)

    El presidente Barack Obama y el candidato republicano Mitt Romney discuten durante el segundo debate presidencial en la universidad de Hofstra, el martes 16 de octubre de 2012, en Hempstead, Nueva York. Romney se mostró el martes a favor de que los hijos de inmigrantes sin la debida documentación cuenten con una opción para obtener la residencia permanente y reprochó al presidente Barack Obama por no haber cumplido su promesa electoral de reformar las leyes migratorias. (AP foto/David Goldman)  (AP )

Americans on Tuesday night watched what was the most ferocious presidential debate ever. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney circled and interrupted each other, jabbed fingers, got into each other's space, and exchanged verbal body blows for 90 minutes at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Yet it did not change the campaign's dynamic. President Obama won the postdebate polls, but he's losing the argument.

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In CNN's insta-poll, 46% said Mr. Obama did the "best job" while 39% chose Mr. Romney. And in CBS's survey of uncommitted voters, 37% said Mr. Obama won the night while 30% gave it to Mr. Romney. But to reverse the GOP challenger's momentum, the president required nearly as big a victory Tuesday as Mr. Romney had last week. He didn't get it.

To continue reading Mr. Rove's column in the Wall Street Journal, click here.

Karl Rove joined Fox News Channel as a political contributor in February 2008. He also currently serves as a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads. His latest book is "The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters" (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @KarlRove.

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