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. luckjoe

    BO needs to Go!

    October 15, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. george

    Obama forever we love our president to death.one of the USA best son

    October 15, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Suni

    No Please..No more 4 years to waste! my vote for Romney with or without debate. period.

    October 15, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. A Grandma

    I feel like I can't relate at all to anyone who would cast a vote for Romney. Me and my family have worked hard all our lives, have a small business and do well, but feel he is completely out of touch and extremely insincere when he lately tries to say he's all for the middle class. I think he's a liar who only wants to win. What he said behind those closed doors about the 47% cannot be over-looked, nor forgiven. It's what he truly believes. If Obama was hiding tax records or sheltering money overseas, those same voters would be outraged. What has happened to this country! I will cast my vote for Obama.

    October 15, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  5. ed

    The Ryan agrees that Obama inherited a worst economy from a Republican administration but he claimed Obama made it worst.

    I am an investor and I determine if the economy is going bull or bear by looking on the DOW jones industrial average DOW tells me how investors feel about the economy, if it is going down investor are selling and getting away from stocks.

    And I can assure you on January of 2009, the last day of Bush the DOW is below 8000. After Obama took over the Dow standard moving up until now 13,400.

    If DOW moving up is a sign of the economy getting worst, then I do not know what would be the sign of the conomy getting better.

    October 15, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Sheon1

    I am not sure I can take Romney lying or Romney flip flopping for another 90 mins.

    October 15, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Edwin

    This is a good place for Obama to be, pre-debate. I doubt it was his strategy all along, but because of the lower expectations, Obama just has to look alert and smile to impress people. Romney has to do a lot more. And because of the format, it will be very hard for either candidate to attack the other - if they are too aggressive, they lose.

    So... because of the first debate and the debate format, Obama is very well positioned for the public to give him a strong win in this debate - probably bringing him back to his pre-debate leads. Ironic that *losing* the first debate may win him the election.

    October 15, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. starrs

    Some people on here do not know how to spell.

    October 15, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. nick

    I'm not going back to Bush's policy (with all his cronies advising romney), so what ever happens tomorrow, I;m still voting for Obama and I just don;t think there's that many undecided that could sway the outcome in favor of Romney

    October 15, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  10. josh rogen

    when Obama starts his planned attack Romney should turn to him and quote those words another once said when verbally assaulted, no not Obama talking about how wrong it is to resort to name calling, but the great PeeWee Herman who said, "I know you are but what am I?"

    October 15, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  11. Andrew

    I have low expectations for the news! It seems this year their coverage stinks! This year has been dull and boring! CNN has really made this year election dull! With all of Romney flipflops and not using these to call him out is really stupid!

    October 15, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  12. CBR

    Here we go again with hype and polls galore. Just let the men debate and then decide who you will vote for. If we all refused to answer questions from the pollsters that would be wonderful. Just who is trying to drive us with the polls? What do they get if their man wins?

    It would be better if we had better fact checkers and when the facts are wrong real answer should be put on page one.
    As it is now the public does not get the news unless they look deep inside a newspaper. Just as the news that Mr. Romney had "borrowed" phrasing from a tv show and "borrowed music from another group. Did he have to pay royalties?

    October 15, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. Sunshine State

    When people get in the voting booth, they are going to vote for the candidate they can trust. Obama has taken us out of the shambles of the Bush great recession, and has us on the road to full recovery. Mitt Romney can't be trusted on his word any given day, as he has demonstrated with his constant flip-flopping and "extreme makeover" at the last debate. In the end, integrity and trust will win over opportunism and dishonesty. Let's put the etch a sketch away.

    October 15, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Republicans would lie even if Romney was defeated as they have no honor. You hears James Carville tear into the Pres for a lackluster, non-animated performance. However, the Pres won on substance as Robme has no idea how or what to do with his goals of 4.8 trillion dollar tax cut! We are simply supposed to trust him, until after the election.

    October 15, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  15. davidpatrick344

    obamma is the only one that has already cut medicare he has cut the people that use oxygen of which i am one i can show you the bills where he has cut it -so stop the flat out lies romney said he would put the money back that obamma stoll from the seniors that paid it in -we worked all our lives to put that money there for it to be stolen by obamma -for his helth care plan-again obamma is the only one that has ever stolen the medicare money

    October 15, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  16. garypsmith321

    "Voter expectations for Obam lower". Well duh... Look at the last four years in this country, every solar company selected by the white house has failed, fast and furious failure, russians have walked away from negotiations on arms treaties, al-Qaeda seems to be doing a lot of damage for an organization that has been dismantled, gas prices at record highs, GM worth a third it was worth four years ago, even with the release of the last jobs report, there still seems to be an aweful lot of un-employed. Why would anyone expect anything out of him, he's happy and says everything is looking bright.

    October 15, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  17. dr greg

    Here is something for you to consider. According to the 2012 Military Times Election poll which was a sample of 2057 active duty, 1048 National Guard and Reserve as well as 4000 retirees "Romney bests Obama 2-1" I guess that is a pretty clear indication of how America's best will vote.

    October 15, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. DMoneyx2

    These guys are all out for themselves...the days of a goverment for the people, by the people are long gone...we do not approve of any of the morons jobs...yet we keep sending all the same clowns back...good lord!

    October 15, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. McSwayne

    Voter expectations set lower for Obama this debate, (and his second term)...... As an independent voter, here is the fact, it was a breath of fresh air to see a man stand on stage in the last debate and articulate his thoughts instead of a man reading to us. I say its time to trust a man with a Masters in Business from Harvard to get America working instaed of a man who lived half his childhood in foreign countries and never set foot on the US mainland untill college

    October 15, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. JohnnyU

    Obama has a ring inscribed “God is a disciple of Allah”. He has a Muslim name; his father had a Muslim name. O K he’s not a Muslim. We all know there are good and bad Muslims, Muslims breed Muslims and they bring bad Muslims and those Muslims bring ethnic cleansing, oppression and a dominant male society.

    Since the 1940’s Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Syria are responsible for over 2 million war casualties, all 99% plus population, Muslim strong holds. These are the people that want the USA destroyed. This is a growing power in the world and the more opportunity’s we give them the closer we get to Armageddon.

    Obama may not be an American but YOU ARE. I hope the actions of the Presidents handling of the Libya cover-up going on right now is not only a blessing in disguise at least opens your eyes and minds.

    October 15, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. Say it ain't so

    I'll say this the housing market is slowly gearing up, that's good news. I however won't be voting again this year as i see no worthy candidate that should earn my vote.

    October 15, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Debby

    I am rooting for Romney tomm. !

    October 15, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. marctheduck

    I'm trying to think how to say it without just sounding rude... but Obama just is not competent for this job. And he lacks any previous management experience. It doesn't matter how compassionate he is (if you believe that). It does matter whether he can do the job. He's been at it for 4 years. Judge for yourself on that one. Love him and I'm sure you think he's done a wonderful job. Unemployed? Maybe not so much...

    October 15, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  24. Shigty

    I voted for Obama because he promised all this hope and change and unfortunately he has not delivered it. The one thing that scared me about Obama was he never managed or owned anything. I should of went with my gut. At least with Mitt he has a proven track record in the private sector and has produced positive results as Governor. My vote with go toward Mitt!!

    October 15, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  25. DonHill

    Amazing that these same peo0ple who are Obama haters, could find no fault in GW Bush for 8 years of wars, and the architect of the recession that began in 2007, more than a year before Obama took office. He took over as president after the Clinton administration leftover the country debt free. He also started the wall street bail outs before leaving office. The country was in such a mess, only a Democrat could possibly get the country back on track. Then it's impossible to correct 8 years of a failed GOP president, in a mere 4 years. A Republican in office this last. 4 years, would have gotten undying support from all other Republican lawmakers, instead, Republicans started from Obama's first day in office, trying to defeat every idea he, or any Democrat offered. That's The view of a former Republican, 76 years old

    October 15, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
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