Poll: Voter expectations lower for Obama this debate
October 15th, 2012
05:09 PM ET
1 year 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. timothy lucas

    Do ronny work for the kkk?

    October 16, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  2. BubbaButch

    Obama will do better but it won't be enough. Romney and Ryan are simply more intelligent than Obama and Biden.

    October 16, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  3. Patti

    We don't need a new potus we need a new congress!!!vote the tea party out and the old repugs.VOTE! VOTE! Get these racist creeps out.

    Thank you and, good night.

    October 16, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  4. Marty

    This debate will mirror the last one. 'Bama is totally useless without his beloved teleprompter.

    October 16, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  5. Copa

    Becareful who you vote for.....fair warning........George W.....I guess he is still looking for weapons of mass distruction!!!
    He also got us in 2 wars. Who brought our troops home? THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY!!

    October 16, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. wjnccartan

    So Tuesday night should prove interesting for both sides, let the fun begin.

    As for who better to lead well Barak should have that hands down. Mittens is going to have to pass himself off as a man of the people, except none of his people will be in the audience, so its going to be quite the trick.

    As for the republican supporters, can you name the last repulican president that left with the country ina good fiscal position, no, no takers, so how have they had the best interest of the American people. They haven't you might like to think, well he's a republican like me and has the same values as me. Nope you'd be wrong, the reupublican party has no interest in your health or well being,or that of your family or children, they couldn't give a rat's ass about any of that. The only interest they have in you is your vote and after that sink or swim they're only concerned about dollars and cents, oh and how they can get them from you.

    You might be right that the President hasn't done enough in the past four years, but what he has done has been in the interest of the entire country, not just half of it.

    Lucid One

    October 16, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  7. gregory

    The many extremists in both parties wage their ideological battles while the average person wants the middle ground and bipartisanship to compromise and work together. That is the only way forward that works. Despite the rhetoric, both parties are responsible for the lack of compromise. It's the president's job as well as party leaders to facilitate cooperation, civility and respect. Dems want to label GOP as obstructionist for political gain but they are just as responsible for not compromising for their own political gain. All the online talking heads make their little comments painting their guy as right and demonizing the other as wrong, blinding themselves to objectivity, and keeping themselves from seeing issues in their true light. Partisanship and the desire to win is killing this country and will prevent us from solving our problems.

    October 16, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  8. Name Mary

    I hope Romney again compares President Obama to his five dishonest boys. Instead of graciously ignoring the comment the President could reply – Number one Mitt, I'm Not your BOY. Number two I guess the apples don't fall far from the tree.

    October 16, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  9. C

    God I can't wait for Romney to get elected so we can all move on to a better life.

    October 16, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  10. Bill

    Obama's campaign is running on a plan of character assassination of Romney, because he is unable to win over support solely based on his past 4 year record. I am sure with this town hall format the president will fair better, however the veil has been lifted on the presidents campaign plan and independents are now taking a second look at Romney.

    October 16, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  11. Wilberforce

    Expectations lower? Ya' think maybe people are getting wise to this guy?

    October 16, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  12. Truth will Prevail

    People enough is enough...we gave OBAMA – BIDEN a chance and they have sent our country down in every direction time for rookies to get out....we cannot re-elect these incompetents!!!...do the right thing people for us..for our children...for our next generations

    October 16, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  13. fernace

    Obama all the way! I don't know of any other American president who has taken so much bull, opposition & obstruction in his job, or personal attacks as this man! And still he works steadily for all Americans, even those who hate him! He has class & is on our side, unlike his opponent who has flipfloppery & is on the side of the 1%! Obama, Next 4!!

    October 16, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  14. Silence DoGood

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

    And that is why we have the Empty Suits and Liars running for office that we do.
    Vote Green Party and raise the bar!

    October 16, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  15. Leo

    now obama will be ready the second time? hhmm? he was suppost to be ready the first! obama lost his chance at showing the american people why he is the president to begin with. he should of have been ready but instead thought he didnt have to worry about mitt romney. he got cought by surprise and he lost the first debate like he will lose the second debate too! HISPANICS FOR MITT ROMNEY!

    October 16, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  16. derek sagala

    If Obama was a CEO he would be fired a long time ago. He is borrowing money to pay for government programs. He has added 6 trillion dollars in debt in less than 4 years, unempolyment has been above 8 % for over 42 months. 23 million people are out of work and or not looking for work. The labor force is back to the levels of 1981. We need people back working again so the government can pay this defecit down. Obama and the democrats controlled both the senate and congress for 2 years and they concentrated making deals to pass Obamacare. Vote Romney/Ryan.

    October 16, 2012 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  17. Stay informed

    wiki: "On April 8, 1993, police seized Bullock's computer and raided the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. A search of Bullock's computer revealed he had compiled files on 9,876 individuals and more than 950 groups across the political spectrum. Many of Bullock's files concerned groups that did not fit the mold of extremist groups, hate groups, and organizations hostile to Jews or Israel that the ADL would usually be interested in... An attorney for the ADL stated that "We knew nothing about the vast extent of the files. Those are not ADL's files. … That is all [Bullock's] doing."[54] As for its own records, the ADL indicated that just because it had a file on a group did not indicate opposition to the group. The San Francisco district attorney at the time accused the ADL of conducting a national "spy network", but dropped all accusations a few months later.[55]"

    October 16, 2012 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  18. Voter

    No one who understands the world economical situation can vote for Romney. The whole world is struggling, please do not take the US out of their geo-political context.

    Also one of his Republican buddies got us into two wars, of which we can't get out safely but also which we can't afford. These wars alone compromised US potential for economic recovery. Now Romney, like a true Republican, wants us to get into another war, in Syria, on the rebels (read terrorists) side.

    October 16, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  19. EMMANUEL

    give obama another he is doing great thing if debate or not he is good

    October 16, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  20. MikeyLies

    "Obama Phones" ...

    do not exist, except in doofus talk.

    The FCC has mandated a very low cost minimal service be made available to people on very low incomes for over half a century. FCC has recently allowed that to be done via cell phones, which unlike Lifeline landlines often produce revenue for carriers. Lifeline cell phones come with a handful of minutes, which can be augmented by buying more in increments as small as $5. Carriers also expect some Lifeline customers to have greater incomes later and stay with the carrier after their lifeline service ends.

    When the lifeline program began, Obama had not yet been born.

    October 16, 2012 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  21. Name Ed Perez

    Romney will take Obama and beat him in any debate. Obama does not have a record to run on. I am not better off today as I was before Obama became President. Just so you know, I am an Independent voter and I am NOT impressed with Obama at all. I made the mistake of voting for him in 2008, but that is one mistake that I and many other Independent voters will not repeat this election.

    October 16, 2012 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  22. Name TSOT

    Ps. Those of you taking down or stealing any of the democratic
    signs ive put out will be sorry
    someday!!! I have a just as
    much right to put out democratic signs as republicans !!! Leave
    The signs alone!!!

    October 16, 2012 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  23. Name Ed Perez

    The gentleman who posted that we give the President a chance to complete his term to "produce positive results" doesn't get it. Mr. Obama has had FOUR YEARS to turn this economy around. He has failed. He claimed that Al-Qaeda was no longer a threat, yet, Al_Qaeda was behind the terrorist attacks that cost the life of an AMERICAN AMBASSADOR and others.
    That's the thing that happens when the POTUS does not attend security briefings and prefers to go golfing or appear on tv like a rock star. I did not vote for a rock star. I also did not vote for him because he was black. Instead of Hope & Change we got Despair & More of the same. THAT is what Independent Voters like me are looking at. The American People need a change in leadership on BOTH sides of the aisle, starting with the President.

    October 16, 2012 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  24. Jack

    Breaking News…Just released editorial by Reagan Budget Director, David Stockman.

    Stockman, a life long Republican, conservative & Reagan’s good friend slams Romney!

    He categorizes as “dead wrong” - the Romney campaign’s claim that the Republican candidate is prepared to help the U.S. economy because he transformed struggling companies and created jobs - Instead, Stockman called private equity “crony capitalism” and said the practice of gambling on companies with borrowed money is a “safe bet” for anyone that has access to such capital…“anybody could make money doing it, they like to call it private equity when discussing it with the public, but in reality the deals are leveraged buy outs; it doesn’t take a genius to wager someone else’s money.”

    Stockman goes on to write: “Mitt Romney was not a businessman; he was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses. Bain’s billions of profits were not rewards for capitalist creation; they were mainly windfalls collected from gambling in markets that were rigged to rise.”

    Who do you trust, Mitt Romney or Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director?

    Go to TheDailyBeast and search for the op-ed –Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer

    October 16, 2012 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  25. DOGFIGHTER

    Mr. Harvard Law Professor-turn Junior Illinois Senator-turn President of the United States must really believe that the media, Gallup Organization and voting American public are stupid.

    October 16, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
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