Poll: Voter expectations lower for Obama this debate
October 15th, 2012
05:09 PM ET
10 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. jerrylax

    the voter expectations were low on the first debate for obama. My goodness he never has open press conferences and few cabinet meetings...and his performance with the debt limit raising last year proved he don't care to work with other elected legislators/law makers. We know he falls apart when challenged or ask questions because his agenda past and future is not one real Americans would vote for..he is not one of us and he has proven it. We need a real American President...get this chicago radical out of our White House.

    October 15, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. Tk

    I am surprised how many people do not thin rationally. It's all emotion. We need to wake up and make a change. Our current president is simply not getting it done. Plain and simple.

    October 15, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. Manuel J.

    You people demagogue Romney, yet Obama lied about:
    1) Only taking public funding for the '08 election
    2) Addressing immigration reform his first year in office
    3)Focusing on the economy....

    One of the few times he has been honest.... was in the first debate when he said he spent 50% of his time on the economy and 50% on his pet project Obamacare. I'm going to LMAO when a lot of folks get fined by the IRS because they didn't buy insurance. In other words, he didn't fix the problem. He kicked the can down the road

    October 15, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. hot air warrior

    I will not vote for Romney. He has to much flip flopping and hidden personal taxes. Who knows what he really stands for. Romney is Big question mark... like this ?????????

    October 15, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. JOE

    Celebrity Obama not cut out for much but the talk show circuit. We need a leader for this country, Romney the man.

    October 15, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. David C. Martinez

    "No intelligent open minded American would vote for Obama again." OK, so you think we're unintelligent or closed-minded. Or both. Well, that's debatable. What's absolutely certain - and this you'll see for yourself in a few short weeks - is that there are are more of us than there are of you. Many more.

    October 15, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. dscon

    Type "bill clinton+cruise missles" in your browser and you will find what bill clinton did for HIS "october surprise" and you will find obama's playbook..........
    two "slick willy's" ha!

    October 15, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. Don't Vote For A Snake Oil Salesman

    @Rob Me&Lying, thank you we are all staring to figure out the nut case truth. Your description is accurate.

    October 15, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  9. Meki60

    not surprising, what is the good list from the last 4 years

    October 15, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. David C. Martinez

    Matched against anyone, I would give Mitt the best debater medal. Every time. Except that I don't know which of his three irreconcilable incarnations that I've seen and heard so far to pin it on.

    October 15, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. Connie Ehrke

    @Igortman – well, I've decided Obama after reviewing the facts about Romney and listening you him. I'd say I'm pretty intelligent and very open minded. Your comment shows that you are the opposite. The falling of the great USA – sounds like you are in love with Limbaugh and Hannity!!! Don't tell me you've looked up the facts!!! Phewww!

    October 15, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  12. Pete

    Pres.Obama,ask Romney about the investigation into the ponzi scheme he and his son started in 2008.A reported 8.5-9 billion is missing from contributors that have Romney,his son Tagg and a Mr Allan Stanford the ponzi originator.It started in Romneys campaign headquarters in 2008.Maybe that's why Romney secretly destroyed his governors files,harddrives,can you say illegal or incriminating..This may be the October surprise I'm looking for,aren't you fellow Democrates wondering also,this isn't malarky republicans its pure Fact!Truth does hurt doesn't it guys!!

    October 15, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  13. GaryB

    Romney has yet to offer a concrete plan as to how he would make things better or do anything differently (other than messing with the tax code in a "revenue neutral" way). Ientifying problems (the deficit has gotten huge) and offering blanket solutions (we'll balance the budget by cutting spending) does us no good. Everyone knows what the problems are and what the broad solutions would be. The specifics are the tough part.

    October 15, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. kayla

    romney multiple oersonality

    October 15, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  15. romeo tcheimegni

    I think president Obama will do better on Tuesday debate

    October 15, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |

    romney 2012

    October 15, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. Steven

    Any thinking person knows the only way out of this fiscal mess is a combination of benefit reductions and tax increases. Obama wants to increase taxes but his spending is over the top, Romney wants to lower taxes and spending but he's not specific about what would be cut. The reality is that any candidate that tells the truth is doomed so we lurch from half-truth to half-truth and hope for the best. One can only hope that after we survived two years of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triad it can only get better. Since Nevada won't keep Reid at home, let's give Obama the Gold Watch and get some actual leadership in office.

    October 15, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. Brad Ster

    I hope the President doesn't act like his disrespectful and rude Vice President did. Please, show some class.

    October 15, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. joe

    I agree with Biden, the last 4 years have been terrible for the middle class. It's time to give them a break.

    October 15, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. lel2007

    obama has worked hard for near 4 years to achieve low expectation in regard to anything. Replace this communist POS.

    October 15, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  21. Segweg

    I don't think it matters to me how well or not Obama does on tomorrow's debate. The first debate was the real deal. That is where I got to see the real Obama. The second debate will be a practiced version with lots of promises that the public wants to hear.

    October 15, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. n

    President Obama Will win this debate easily, Romney lies about everything and flip flops. Mr Obama Will come out swinging. Mr Obama go after Romney about his 47% his bain capital and why all his money is outside the country pay the tax.

    October 15, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. GoodDeedsLeadTo

    The presidential debate was a good indicator of the election results.
    The debate tells you about The maximum for Romney & the minimum for Obama, if best comes to best for Romney & worst comes to worst for Obama.
    Looks like the best for Romney is not giving him a clear lead, and the worst for Obama is not giving him defeat.
    It means Obama should win.

    October 15, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. Mary1972

    Debate or no debate, I have decided for Obama after hearing Romney"s lies. Only the gullible and the 1% will vote for Romney.

    October 15, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Mike Smith

    I hope Romney is elect as President. I think normally gets what it deserves, a guy who is for the rich. Minorities are used to been without, now let's see how the other side handle it. The clown has already told you that he could care less about your broke-azz, He's planning on making good at his word. Middle-class thing of the past.

    October 15, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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