CNN Poll: Most watchers say Romney debate winner
October 3rd, 2012
11:30 PM ET
10 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.

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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.

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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. James

    people may think he won the debate but will that make him vote for Romney when it was clear to everybody except his base he was lying? really lying! it was something to see.

    October 3, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. Bruce

    Mitt schooled the man child who could not even look Mitt in the eye! Mitt broke the protective media protection bubble around the liar in chief! The wimp in chief is. Totally worthless with out his TelePrompTer!

    October 3, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  3. andrew

    Obama blew it. He didn't mention the 47% issue, nor Cayman Islands wealth. He was too much of a nice guy, and let Romney score points.

    October 3, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  4. demrules

    After all the GOP scandal and Romney writing off 47% of the American population, he NEEDED a confidence booster to help to stop his and the GOP's continuous whining. There are two more presidential debates left. I can't defend the President, I can only say that it was very similar during the 2008 campaign with the McCain/Palin people.

    October 3, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  5. Syl Allen

    People are you looking at CNN POLLS they have Mitt name under D (BLUE) and Obama name under R (RED) so the postings are showing

    October 3, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  6. pamela stanfield

    REALLY .... that is the only picture you all could come up with for the guy who won the debate tonight... if Obama would have won tonight you all would have put up a glowing picture of him... NOT FAIR .... put up a better picture with this story!

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    So tonight the President was the tortoise and Romney was the hare. I think Obama always prefers the tortoise approach, and I think it will pay off in the end. Romney lied through his teeth, and it will be examined in the light of day.

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  8. Nash

    Can anyone tell me why the party colors are reversed in the poll? Could it be that Obama won by a large margin? Why is Romney's name placed by a blue D and Obama by a red R. Enough said.

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  9. AndyLL

    It only matters what the swing state voters thought.

    The assertive talking points won't work there because we've been hearing them for months.

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Obama looked like he didn't even want to win the election.

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  11. davia55

    well done Romney...Obama looked totally frustrated through the entire debate

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  12. scott

    Romney won big.He won by a mile. If this was a fight the referee would have stopped it in the 2nd round.

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  13. Extra Medium

    I am harcore repub. All pollster are lying about the result. They all favor Obamma !!!!

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  14. 2020

    This is the Romney the 18th version. A USED CAR SALESMAN Who has no shame in lying.

    that he doesn't have a 5 Trillion dollar cut; LIE

    that he won't cut medicare, medicaid, social security. LIE

    that he care of all people, STRAIGHT LIE

    that he will replace Obama care with ???? LIE

    that he will not cut education budget LIE

    this man lie to his teeth in every subject, anyone believe 10% what he said would really be a fool.

    America cannot afford to have Bush 3.0. that simple

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  15. RudyG

    One of the best businessmen in this country just gave our divider in chief an economics lesson. Obama showed what he is; a community organizer hopelessly in over his head!!

    October 3, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  16. Romney

    Hee hee hee. My dastardly plan worked. Offer no details on your own plans, say the other guy doesn't know what he is talking about when he addresses your non-specific plan. Turn your reality of "trickle down economics" into his liability as "trickle down government." Be willing to say anything while saying nothing of substance to win. That's the way you do it baby.

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  17. Brandon

    I'm sorry but you folks are hilarious. Obama had 4 more minutes to speak, Romney sat and watched half the time Obama tried to lie his way out of a hole because he realized digging wasn't working.

    I'm just glad that rational people don't generally look at these forums, because they might start believing some of the crap you're spouting. Just admit it, it was an ass whippin'.

    Mitt Romney is your new President in a month, sit down and enjoy the fact that now you have a REAL President.

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  18. Jeff

    Romney was much more energetic than the President. Add to this the fact that expectations were lower for Romney going into the debate, and it means a pretty big loss for President Obama.

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  19. Only the Truth

    Mitt Romney Wins big!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. Syl Allen

    Okay they just fixed that lol

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  21. Joe

    Wow! Romney kicked butt. And without a TelePrompTer! Nice!

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  22. Lawrence Ang

    I do not agree with your CNN Poll result on tonight debate ? Also, I do not see the link to particpate in the vote ? I think Obama won the debate with a clear explanation of his policy and record. It cannot be Mitt Romey won by just aggressive and not to be particular about his facts.

    October 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. Chad

    Rombot is a moron! The guy did not answer any questions. He did not specify any part of his plan except for sticking up for the 3%. Obama did what he had to do. Romney said alot of lies and flip flops. Rombot made alot of mistakes that will haunt him tonight. Go Obama!!!!

    October 3, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  24. John

    You can't really disagree with results when everyone thinks Romney won. When I say everyone, I mean the vast majority of news sources.

    October 3, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  25. Scot

    Holy Schmoly! 430 for a sample size! WOW! Clearly thats enough to call the whole election on. Way to go being the first to declare victory based on 430 respondents. Why even have the election next it!

    With 430 votes, CNN is calling the Presidential Election for Romney.

    October 3, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
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