(LIN) – Though both candidates came out swinging, the second presidential debate on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University didn't draw the crowd as the first debate.
According to Nielsen Ratings on Wednesday, more than 65.6 million watched the second debate of President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. That number is down from 67.2 million from their first debate on Oct. 3.
Everyone who did watch, however, has an opinion on who came out on top.
Immediately the Obama camp claimed victory.
David Axelrod, senior Obama campaign adviser, told reporters after the debate Romney was "backpedaling all night" and "defensive."
"It was a dominant performance (for Obama) because the president pulled the curtain back on this bait-and-switch of Mitt Romney," Axelrod said.
The Romney campaign disagreed, saying Obama came in too strong with the one-liners and jeers.
"There's a difference between showing a passion and showing you have a plan," senior Romney campaign strategist Stuart Stevens said.
There certainly was no shortage of passion from either side.
Both candidates literally went toe-to-toe and bickered over oil dependence and the current administration's handling of the consulate attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.
In an onPolitix poll, viewers were almost completely split on who came out on top. When asked "Who do you think won the second debate?", 51 percent picked Obama, and 49 percent sided with Romney.
The same viewers had opposite responses on which candidate was better prepared for the debate, with 49 percent siding with Obama and 51 percent siding with Romney. The same figures apply when viewers were asked "Which candidate responded to questions better?" with 51% of viewers siding with Romney.
It's hard to pick a definite winner of the second debate. The two candidates verbally pushed each other around on stage as if they were two brothers vying to win the affection of a proud parent. Both pointed out all of the good things they believe they've done, all the bad things the other guy did and made promises that sound wonderful (even if they may not be attainable.)
The only obvious take away from this debate is that these two candidates really (really) don't like each other, and their campaigns couldn't be any more different from their opponent's.
Undecided voters may not have gotten the answers they needed, but at least we know both sides are passionate about taking their seat in the Oval Office next year, and they'll say almost anything to get there.
The final presidential debate, moderated by CBS's Bob Schieffer, will be held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. ET.
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