Local Presidential Debate Watchers React

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HUNTSVIILE, Ala. (WHNT) --  Both the Democratic and Republican headquarters  played  host to watch parties for to supporters of both presidential candidates  Tuesday evening during the second of three presidential debates.

The Madison County Democrats meet inside their party headquarters off North Memorial Parkway. Dozens of people cheered and booed depending who was speaking at the time. Obama supports believed the town hall format of this second debate was an advantage for the President.

The debate format was very wide and questions about immigration, the economy, Libya and the clean energy all were asked of the candidates.

The Madison County Republican Party debate watch party was held at their headquarters at 806 Governors Drive. About 100 supporters gathered there and also had a very positive reaction to the debate, but as you can guess they felt Governor Romney was the better debater.

The strong Romney performance in Round 1 has changed how voters set the odds for Round 2: 41% of Americans expected Obama to win; 37% expected Romney to prevail. That is according to a Pew Research Center survey, and the numbers are strikingly different from a Pew survey before the first debate in which it was Obama 51% and Romney 29% when voters were asked who would win.

Romney made significant gains after the first debate, nationally and in key battlegrounds. New polls also show the president with tiny leads now in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the second debate was expected to go a long way in shaping consequential resource decisions by both campaigns.

Both Michigan and Pennsylvania have deep blue DNA in presidential politics, and the risk for Romney is steering money into one or both and running the risk of coming up just short not only in Michigan and/or Pennsylvania but also somewhere else.

GOP pollster Ayres calls it a risk worth taking.

“If you are Team Romney you expand the map,” Ayres said. “Money flows with momentum, and there will be no shortage of it if he looks like a potential winner. Romney needs multiple ways of getting to 270 (electoral votes), and expanding the map significantly increases his chances.”

Top Romney advisers are waging a spirited internal debate on this question.

“Tempting, but may be mirages,” one top outside adviser told CNN. Another said polling conducted after the second presidential debate would be more determinative.

The flip side of this is whether the Obama campaign needs to spend to defend states they just days ago believed were safely in their path to 270.

“No big tricks,” the outside Romney adviser said of the strategy for Tuesday’s debate. “We like viewers getting to see them side by side.”

The same “Presidential DNA” test that makes many Republicans skeptical about making major investments in Michigan and Pennsylvania is the source of increasing optimism about the overall path to 270.

Romney is now in dead heats or better with the president in Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

The third and final 2012 Presidential debate will be October 22  at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.  It will be moderated by Bob Schieffer who is the host of Face The Nation on CBS.

CNN contributed to this report

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