Mr. Obama’s advisers were so off balance that they did not show up in the media filing center for the traditional post-debate spin until long after the Republicans. But they were relieved that at least there was no single memorable moment to be used against Mr. Obama in an ad. And they took some solace from focus groups showing that he broke even with Mr. Romney on substance even if he lost over all.Seriously.
See also Ezra Klein's reading of the debate here, with the conclusion:
I also don’t think he won by lying. This is a meme that’s cropped up over the last week, and while Romney did tell a few whoppers — that his plan covers preexisting conditions and that half of the green energy investments made in the stimulus have failed — he mostly danced around the ambiguities in his policies in a way that appeared to confound Obama. Indeed, while Obama’s policies are much more specific than Romney’s, Romney’s performance was much more specific than Obama’s. You saw this in the closing statements, where Obama ended with gauzy generalities and Romney closed by ticking off concrete policy promises.