CNN Poll: Most watchers say Romney debate winner
October 3rd, 2012
11:30 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Most watchers say Romney debate winner

Denver, Colorado (CNN) – Two-thirds of people who watched the first presidential debate think that Republican nominee Mitt Romney won the showdown, according to a nationwide poll conducted Wednesday night.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.

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"No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn't make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.

CNN Fact Checks: What was truth, and what was not?

More than six in ten said that president did worse than expected, with one in five saying that Obama performed better than expected. Compare that to the 82% who said that Romney performed better than expected. Only one in ten felt that the former Massachusetts governor performed worse than expected.

"This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans. It only represents the views of people who watched the debate and by definition cannot be an indication of how the entire American public will react to Wednesday's debate in the coming days," cautions Holland.

The sample of debate-watchers in the poll was 37% Democratic and 33% Republican.

"That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is about four points more Democratic and about eight points more Republican than an average CNN poll of all Americans, for a small advantage for the Republicans in the sample of debate-watchers," adds Holland.

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The poll suggests that the debate didn't change opinions of the president. Forty-nine percent of debate watchers said before the debate that they had a favorable opinion of Obama, and that number didn't change following the debate.

It was pretty much a similar story for Romney, whose favorable rating among debate watchers edged up just two points, from 54% before the debate to 56% after the debate.

The economy dominated the first debate and according to the poll, and by a 55%-43% margin, debate watchers said that Romney rather than Obama would better handle the economy. On the issue of taxes, which kicked off the debate, Romney had a 53%-44% edge over Obama. And by a 52%-47% margin, debate watchers said Romney would better handle health care, and he had the edge on the budget deficit by a 57%-41% margin.

From the spin room...

Debate watchers thought Romney was more aggressive. Fifty-three percent said Romney spent more time attacking his opponent. Only three in ten thought Obama spent more time taking it to Romney. By a 58%-37% margin, debate watchers thought Romney appeared to be the stronger leader.

"Romney's only Achilles heel may be the perception that he spent more time attacking his opponent than Obama, which may explain why two-thirds of debate-watchers said that Romney did the best job but only 46% said that he was more likeable than Obama," says Holland.

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The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 430 adult Americans who watched the debate questioned by telephone. All interviews were conducted after the end of the debate. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

soundoff (314 Responses)
  1. Dr.GZ

    Obama looked a little dumb-founded...guess that's how one would appear...as if he was envisioning moving trucks pulling up to the White House...

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  2. Michelle

    This must be devastating tot he acolytic MSM.

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  3. laguna niguel

    Romney clearly won the debate. Obama was pathetic but I will still vote for Obama because America needs a President, not a debater, and a President who doesn't have offshore banking accounts and who values the middle class more than Romney.

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  4. qinfengkrimmel

    Romney did good job to explian his position.

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  5. Tom

    Romney lied so many times – the newspapers will have a field day sorting it all out!

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  6. RevCleo

    I felt sorry for Barry in a way. Too bad we have two

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  7. Larry

    Hey CNN, can you make Romey's face in the header pic look a little more ridiculous?

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  8. Doug

    Romney won the debate!!!! President Obama wouldn't look Gov. Romney in the eyes and the reason was he knew he couldn't reply and defend his record. He is on his way out of office.'

    October 4, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  9. Sharon

    Of the 430 individuals polled, did CNN asked if they were Republicans, or Democrats. I would like to know what the breakdown was.

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  10. kenny

    anyone under 40 watch this? lol

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  11. Chemimagineer

    Folks, we say a confident Mitt Romney. I have put forth a plan to save our country called "Producing Our Way Back to Prosperity" which focuses on Energy Development - both traditional and non-traditional including lots of green projects. Mitt's discussion follows those principles to the tee. The energy portion, "20 in 20" for 20 Million BOPD in 20 years of NEW production can be maintainted for 100's of years on the low side with the Trillions of barrels of oil shale, tar sands, conventional oil, natural gas liquids and coal conversion. You may have heard Donald Trump and his people mention it by name. I only bring it up so you know there are thousands of hours and 40 years of engineering/project creation behind these plans and economic impact statement. We need 12 Million BOPD to energy independent which would boost our economy by $3-4 Trillion or 20-25%. Each Million BOPD (Million Barrels of Oil Per Day) represents $40-55 Billion in direct annual revenue and $240-330 Billion (with oil/fuel prices ranging from $100 to 150/bbl) with a 6 X multiplier for the economic activity generated. This is how we pay down our deficit. By growing oil/fuel production to become a net exporter, we will build our balance of trade back to being the #1 financial power house. With 20 Million of BOPD on new production, we grow the economy by $6 Trillion per year or 37.5%. The new technologies will change everything.

    As to green energy, the hybrid Mirrored Concentration solar plants are proven winners - with a 30+ year history of success. Geothermal works - and places like Utah have geothermal over the entire state. Rebuild all those destroyed dams and modernize the still functioning dams. This is the cheapest energy of all - and very, very reliable. Solve the fish issues - anything can be solved with the right people working on it. Hydro projects have up to 100 year life - a heck of an investment. Nuclear is another story but we may have the largest uranium/thorium deposits on the Earth with Utah alone having 35 deposits at least 5 miles in diameter and one being 50 miles long.

    That is enough. But "Made in America" must become the world's symbol of quality and source of long term, stable jobs. The Energy production will provide the driver for our new steel, valve, copper, mining, timber and food processing industries that will be built as a side benefit - but key to our long term National Security and Financial Security picture for all of us. Our kids deserve to have a solvent country handed over to them - lets give them the land of the free that is "truly free" starting now.
    Chemi

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  12. dansmithofnc

    I'm almost taken back, yet very pleased that CNN actually reported the results.

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  13. mikle

    Obama lost bid time.

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  14. DL

    Romney flipped again on virtually everything. Facts are, Obama is right about the wealthy tax cuts and the trillions more in debt. Romney said it himself, no new revenue..this means medicare, education and SS takes the hit. If those programs go to state level, you might as well end them because that is exactly what will happen. Once again the middle class suffers to pander to the rich. Romney will finish off what's left of the middle class. We did this before, now the GOP are calling it 'trickle down government' (his words). Bush 2.0.

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  15. calli

    PBS ....goodbye when Mitt wins, taking funding out of independent public Television is a crime,they have great informative programs and are educational .They are struggling as it is ....perhaps they have asked the wrong questions and are discerning voices that you like to silence.Shame on you.

    October 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  16. Guero

    Felt sorry for Obama. It is very apparent he is and has been in over his head for the last 4 years. The experiment is over. Time to move on with someone who has executive experience and keeps their campaign promises.

    October 4, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  17. DBWL

    I found Gov. Romney arrogant and slippery. As a woman who is registered Republican but find the Party way
    too conservative, I will not vote Republican. Romney will say anything for a vote. YUCK!

    October 4, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  18. jom

    The CNN polls is bias, Cnn takes opinion polls from mostly republicans supporters,just because they're paid to give a boost to Romney.?We know that the owners of CNN are all leaning republicans.
    Did Romney win the debate? Yes, but will people vote for Romney? NO

    October 4, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  19. JoannaRenee

    Obama was the petulant child tonight. So put out, that he had to answer to anyone that was not his fan. He was unable to offer facts that could not be shot down. I voted for him once.............BUT not ever again. I feel like a fool thinking he was going to be good President. He has torn this country in two. and is working on taking more and more rights away. The " NEW law" that will enable the government to arrest you " If they " THINK" you might do something illegal and put you in jail for up to 10 years. Not judge, no jury , no charges. Is beyond scary. Go to u tube and watch Rachel Maddow 's video on his speech. He is Not what I though he was. This is man who will take us over the edge.
    And where is CNN on these things – not one report. FEMA camps with barb wire fences. All these new gun laws.
    Beyond scary.

    October 4, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  20. Teresa Judd

    Romney lied through his teeth. Obama was frustrated with Romney's lies and phoniness. I still don't know what Romney's plan is to fix the economy or our healthcare. Romney came across as creepy. Flip flop, flip flop, flip flop, flip flop, flip flop.

    October 4, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  21. tunji

    men im very disappointed and also im still nervouse with the president because mr president let the romney get a way with a lot of lies phonies stuff he was being saying in his mouth common mr president you can do better than this dont be too confortable under your skin with romney mr president fired up

    October 4, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  22. iowafalcon

    I am not a big fan of Romney, but how can anyone say that this debate was nothing but a landslide? I have not seen such a one-sided debate since '80.

    October 4, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Gay military officers might be better off today than they were before Barack Obama became president. For the rest of us, though, Obama is a decent man–but a lousy president.

    October 4, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  24. DavidH

    I wonder how that outcome would have been affected if they had real-time fact checkers at work.

    October 4, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  25. VonRam

    Every Repub is so happy that Mittens won the first debate but am guessing they are just going brush under the rug the fact that he just lied to his entire base to do it.

    October 4, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
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