Had it not been for that first presidential debate, Mitt Romney would have likely lost the election by a lot more than what he did on Tuesday. Looking back, the way the tables turned between the two events is almost surreal.

The New York Times describes what happened behind the scenes after the first debate:

Nothing had been left to chance: Mr. Romney put on full makeup and did his final practice in a room set up to replicate, down to the lighting and temperature, the hall where he would meet Mr. Obama. …

In 90 minutes, Mr. Obama crystallized what had been gnawing concerns among many Americans about the president. He came across, as Mr. Obama’s advisers told him over the next few days, as professorial, arrogant, entitled and detached from the turmoil tearing the nation. He appeared to be disdainful not only of his opponent but also of the political process itself. Mr. Obama showed no passion for the job, and allowed Mr. Romney to explode the characterization of him as a wealthy, job-destroying venture capitalist that the Obama campaign had spent months creating.

After the first debate, Obama’s campaign surrogates and staff backstage reportedly didn’t even want to face the cameras. They were embarrassed by Obama’s performance.

What a difference one month made.