Poll: Voter expectations lower for Obama this debate
October 15th, 2012
05:09 PM ET
2 years ago

Poll: Voter expectations lower for Obama this debate

(CNN) – Voters are divided over who will fare better in this week's presidential debate, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Monday, one day before the showdown.

According to the survey, 41% of voters say President Barack Obama will do a better job on stage, while 37% say the same about Mitt Romney, a margin that falls within the sampling error.

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The narrow gap represents a sharp difference to a similar Pew poll conducted two weeks ago, before the first presidential debate. At the time, 51% expected Obama to fare better, while 29% said Romney would walk away as the night's winner.

Obama's debate performance at the University of Denver was widely panned compared to that of Romney, who gained a modest bounce after the match-up. The two candidates face off for the second time Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate the debate.

The Pew poll also found that independent voters have stronger expectations for Romney than they did two weeks ago. Forty-two percent of independents say Romney will win, while 31% think the president will fare better. Before the first debate, Obama was expected to win among the voting bloc, by a 44% to 28% margin.

Some of the president's campaign advisers on Sunday predicted a stronger, more assertive performance by Obama for this week's debate.

"He knew when he walked off that stage, and he also knew as he watched the tape of that debate, that he has to be more energetic," adviser Robert Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union."

David Axelrod, another Obama campaign adviser and former White House official, said on "Fox News Sunday" that Obama would be "aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country."

Some, however, acknowledged that the upcoming debate's town hall format may prove difficult for the two candidates to enter attack mode.

"It requires very good interaction with those people and the ability to be able to connect. You have to be able to come across as very likable in a town hall," Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro said, adding that one of Obama's strengths is his ability to communicate with average people.

As the candidates gear up for Tuesday night's debate, a separate survey on Monday suggests that the race for the White House is a dead heat. A CNN Poll of Polls that averages seven non-partisan, live operator, national surveys conducted entirely after the first presidential debate on October 3 indicates Obama at 47% and Romney at 48% among likely voters.

For the Pew survey, the organization interviewed 1,006 adults, including 857 registered voters, between October 12 and October 14. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

– CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama • Presidential Debates
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Namejkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    All president Obama has to say in the whole debate is ask romney the lieing tax cheat , in your 47% comment humiliateing half the American population, were you lieing to your doners , or with your new position of I love 100% of the American people ,are you lieing to the American people now ????????? Which ones are you lieing too ???????

    October 15, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Romney cares less

    God bless the POTUS!

    October 15, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Borderless

    As they should be

    October 15, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. janiceboyd00@gmail.com

    Romney has flipped-flopped to many times to know what this man really stands for. He doesn't know if he is a conservative or a moderate, or he believes that the American People will go with his flow, wrong, we are more educated than that.

    October 15, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Larry L

    Obama has the high ground on character and performance. Romney is a serial flip-flopper, pathological liar and and elitist who thinks 47% of Americans are parasites unworthy of his attention. His definition includes senior citizens on Social Security and using Medicare. It includes disabled veterans. It includes those who lost their jobs and still try to raise their children. Romney makes wild promises but tells us nothing about what he actually plans to cut. He supports making Medicare a voucher plan where seniors must try to find somebody to give them care. He supports making Social Security another gift to Wall Street where people's savings would disappear like their home equity. He's a crook.

    October 15, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Me IN HOUSTON

    How can expectations be lower after such a craptacular performance?
    There is no place for Obama to go but up

    October 15, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. Borderless

    It's not just that Obama has no game. Outside the debate format he relies on speechwriters, teleprompters and a VERY forgiving and sympathetic press. There is nowhere for him to hide within a debate. He must provide his own answers and defend his own failed policies. On the flip side, Romney is given an opportunity to present his points accurately and without media spin. He is able to directly answer false charges that have been leveled at him not only from Team Obama, but from their surrogates the press. Further he is able to call Obama to the carpet over his failed presidency. Advantage Romney.
    Romney/Ryan 2012

    October 15, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. jo an

    I will love Obama if he only walks on and smiles and leaves....My bar is low...

    October 15, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Jim Steele

    Obama can't function without a teleprompter. He's an empty suit!

    October 15, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. dmadam

    Remembering eight years of GW Bush I just can't vote for Romney. Debates don't matter.

    October 15, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Rob-Me & Lyin' Ryan Are Serial Liars

    @Borderless

    As they should be
    -------------------------------------------------
    Ahhh... Your comments have finally gotten mindless enough for readers to recognize the source once again. So "Truth" you've now selected the name "Borderless". Was "Clueless" already taken? Why not Gutless? Mindless? Useless? Fruitless? Dick-less? Brainless? So many appropriate options...

    October 15, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. Nobama

    The new normal.
    A POTUS who can't even get his point across in an honest and compelling way.

    October 15, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. mikey

    Over the past four years the American middle class has suffered an unprecedented decline. The labor for participation rate is the lowest since 1981 and for men it is the lowest since that statistic has been gathered. Household income has plummeted by 7.3% equating to over $4,000 per family. The number of persons on food stamps has nearly doubled in a mere four years. The unemployment rate continues to decline only by statistical legerdemain and reducing the number of people actively looking for work by demoralizing them.

    but some good news for one of Obama's buddies

    Carlos Sims, the world's richest man with a net worth over 70 billion dollars and one of President Obama's biggest supporters is getting richer from the US Governments program that supplies so-called Obama phones to the poor. Sims who owns controlling interest in TracFone which makes $10.00 per phone for each device it provides to "poor" Americans. The company also makes extra money off of extra minutes and data plans

    October 15, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. lgortman

    Debate or no debate, I have decided for Romney after reviewing the facts in black and white from the last 4 years. No intelligent open-minded American would vote for Obama again unless they are supporting the falling of the great USA.

    October 15, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. NameDoug

    President obama is our president, give him a chance to complete his term to make positive results which we see now are happening in most states, the GOP has to agree to work for us , your employer

    October 15, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. BruddahName

    Obama remains without a clue.

    October 15, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Gary Inman

    President Obama will do great in this debate. Romney needs to explain his overseas bank accounts and why he shipped American jobs to China.

    October 15, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Amira

    What world is Borderless living in? Must be part of the 2%, unable to understand the truth when it's heard.
    President Obama will out dabate Romney because we believe in the truth, not lies. HATERS!!!

    October 15, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. Roscoe Chait

    The last "debate" was not a debate. A debate means a discussion. Romney bullied his way through it and wouldn't let Obama get in a word. And Romney lied, lied, lied. He changed his mind so many times I couldn't count. Do you really want this lying crook for President? Do you really want his lying VP Daffy Duck for VP?

    October 15, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. notasdumasu

    And all Romney will have to say is high unemployment, gas prices, federal debt. And mentioning how he has completely failed in the Middle East won't hurt either. Obama has nothing to run on and that is why he lost. It has nothing to do with how Romney did. Obama couldn't even look at him because he knows deep down he is a failure despite what everyone else keeps tellilng him.

    October 15, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  21. Suck

    Since president does not have anything to say or offer anything new.. He can't win this or next debate just by going after Romney aggressively. I don't think President can fool Americans one more time!

    October 15, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Alan

    My expectations are very high for Obama.

    October 15, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. republicans and democrats are pathetic retaardz

    They're both unworthy of the presidential seat.

    October 15, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Underwhelmed by my President

    I see that Name Doug and others seem to think that having approx. 3 weeks left in his 4 years of being the guy in charge or on the way to being in charge isn't enough. Sorry, but this is why we hold elections every four years, to prop up success and get rid of failure. Good bye, President Obama. Thanks for your service but it's just not working out.

    October 15, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Dav

    obama and biden's failed administration will be thrown out by the American worker,retirees and citizens nov 2012

    October 15, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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