Romney wins night, but race is still on

Undecided voters impressed with Republican challenger, but deal's not closed

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A CNN poll found 67 percent of registered voters believe Mitt Romney was the clear winner of Wednesday night's presidential debate, and local sentiment seems to agree. But local political activists say one night's performance for either man won't win the race for the White House.

"I was really surprised Romney did as well as he did," undecided voter Dave Schroeder said. "It definitely influences the way I'm going. I don't like the way the economy's going right now."

Others are struggling with a choice for either candidate. After watching the debate, Faith Titus said she feels like it's choosing the lesser of two evils.

"It worries me, because it's a very, very, very important decision," Titus said. "Who is going to be in control of our future ... and this country?"

Partisans' statements were more predictable.

Former Democratic state Sen. Tony Hill, who now works for Mayor Alvin Brown, said it was clear that after spending GOP primary season courting conservative voters, Romney is now courting the moderates' vote.

"I used to play football, so I know how to fake left and go right," Hill said.

Asked if he was disappointed by President Barack Obama's performance, he said, "The president was being presidential. A lot of us like to hear a jab here and a hit here, but we've got two more. We'll see."

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who still lives in Clay County, was clearly pleased with the performance of her candidate.

"Everyone's saying Mitt Romney's doing well. Where we go forward, to continue on this pathway, to make sure that he succinctly states to the American public what he's about, his level of understanding, what his vision is for them and this country," Carroll said.

Local activists disagree on some of the debate talking points and say there's four more weeks of campaigning to decide the election.

"The president has been doing his day job of running the country," said Joey McKinnon, president of Jacksonville Young Democrats. "I think during the next couple debates, we'll see a President Obama who has his finger on the pulse of the American people."

"He's not doing his day-to-day job," said GOP strategist Robert Foster. "He's left domestic policy to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Clinton is clearly the one trying to run foreign policy. Because just like he didn't prepare for the debate, he doesn't like to govern. He prefers to golf and play pickup basketball games."

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