Noam Scheiber says that Obama took "stunningly conservative" approach to the debate, but made the right call in holding back one particular tactic:
For what it's worth, I don't fault Obama for some of his strategic choices. Liberals are stewing over his refusal to slap Romney for his infamous 47-percent riff. I think Obama made the right call. Pretty much anyone for whom that was likely to matter has already heard the Romney recording. By reminding them of it, Obama risked looking overly snide or cutting.
Yeah, I don't think Obama really needed to go there. He didn't lose for want of haymakers. He lost because he was repeatedly beat to the punch.
Sticking with boxing for a moment, last night reminded of Felix Trinidad fighting Oscar de la Hoya back in 1999. At some point, de la Hoya decided he was up on points and basically spent the rest of the fight trying not to get knocked out. He did not get knocked out. But the judges punished him for playing conservative, and he lost the match.
I highly doubt Obama would lose the election on a single debate. But he did not help himself last night, and Romney likely did. He still has to finish. Unlike de la Hoya, Obama will get a rematch.