At the debate site in Boca Raton, Fla., hundreds of students gathered on a soccer field to watch the face-off on inflatable screens.
William Lopez, a 29-year-old accountant who watched the debate with friends who attend Lynn University, said Romney impressed him with his promise of creating millions of jobs in the U.S.
‘‘It’s a number that you can grab onto,’’ said Lopez, who voted for Obama in 2008. ‘‘I don’t think the president has provided any information whatsoever about what he’s going to give us.’’
Andy Auger, 22, an international relations major at Lynn, said he wasn’t sure which candidate could be called the winner. He still plans to vote for Obama, but said Romney acquitted himself well.
‘‘I wouldn’t feel bad if he does win,’’ he said.
For the first two debate parties at Tulane, several dozen students filled the plastic chairs and desks set aside to watch C-SPAN’s broadcasts on a big screen. But on Monday, it looked as if Thomas Langston, the political science department head, might be eating cold pizza for the rest of the week.
Before the debate started, the professor encouraged the dozen and a half students to raise their hands if they heard something they liked, regardless of which candidate they preferred.
‘‘We’re doing kind of a reverse Joe Wilson,’’ he joked, referring to the South Carolina congressman who famously yelled out, ‘‘You lie!’’ during a 2009 Obama speech before Congress.
But every hand that went up was in support of Obama.
‘‘No cross-partisan love,’’ Langston lamented.
Senior Jonathan Pick raised his hand when Romney answered a question about former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The New Orleanian said there was nothing the former Massachusetts governor could say would persuade him to vote for him.
‘‘Part of my continuing support for Obama is that I think the Republican party has shifted significantly to the right,’’ he said. ‘‘Over the past four years, that more than anything has turned me off.’’
Besides, as a senior on the brink of entering the job market, he wasn’t all that interested in either candidate’s foreign policy stands.
‘‘As long as I don’t get drafted into the military, then foreign policy is taking a back seat,’’ he said.
Morgan Wolfe, a 20-year-old junior from Riverside, Conn., was the only Romney supporter in the classroom. Wolfe, who will be casting his first vote in a presidential election, said Romney’s performances during the debates have only strengthened his support for him.
‘‘At least Romney has stayed consistent throughout the debates in his claims about how he can change the economy, his general stance on foreign policy,’’ he said. ‘‘I like the idea that Romney is focused on Latin America, because I think Latin America has a lot of resources for us that are much closer than the Middle East.’’
As Bickers, the student with the Bin laden/GM T-shirt, suspected, Romney said nothing to win his vote. But Obama didn’t impress him all that much either.
‘‘I wasn’t blown away,’’ he said. ‘‘Even though he sounded strong on Libya, I feel like the rest of the president’s remarks sounded a little too ‘stay the course.'’’
It will be up to the pundits — and soon the voters — to decide who carried the debates.
Allen G. Breed is a national writer, based in Raleigh, N.C. He can be reached at features(at)ap.org. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/(hash)!/AllenGBreed
Associated Press writers Jesse Washington in Pittsburgh, Kristen Wyatt in Denver, Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans, and Matt Sedensky in Boca Raton, Fla., also contributed to this story.