Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, praised Schieffer, as did Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Red State's Erick Erickson.

Schieffer succeeded in dodging the sharply partisan criticism of previous moderators partly by avoiding the limelight during the debate and keeping the story about the two candidates onstage. The candidates were also less aggressive in talking over the moderator or each other than in previous debates, which allowed Schieffer to quietly steer the conversation.

According to Twitter, he did achieve two of the peak moments for tweets during the evening. Schieffer's two biggest moments were when he told the candidates, late in the debate at 10:31 p.m. during a back-and-forth on education: "I think we all love teachers," and at about 9:40 p.m. when he redirected the debate back to foreign policy from domestic issues.

Another big moment with the debate audience on Twitter came with his closing words. Schieffer ended the debate with advice he credited to his mom: "Go vote, it makes you feel big and strong."

That was a popular line tweeted by many Twitter users, especially following a debate with few tweetable lines. Obama's campaign also quoted Schieffer's mom in a tweet immediately following the debate.

Schieffer's name was trending nationally on Twitter immediately following the debate.

Earlier in the debate, Schieffer earned some mild criticism online over a verbal stumble combining Obama's name with and Osama bin Laden's. Other users mocked him as "catatonic," some linking his laid-back attitude to his age. Actress Mia Farrow tweeted that she missed previous moderators Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz.

Updated at 11:59 p.m.