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. JMorcan

    It won't matter who wins. China will bury us.

    October 15, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  2. L4yrsworstPresidentEver

    Not just the debate but his record and cover ups have made all America loose expectation on him. So, he doesn't have to do anymore on lowering expectations!

    I'm always skeptical about the smooth talkers the Hope & Change people, look where it has taken us in the last 4 years. Shame on you for continue to ask for 4 more years. If not for America, you would have got fired long time ago!

    October 15, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  3. todd

    Ah, so Obama supporters are starting to learn

    October 15, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Narendra Bansal

    I like media to concentrate on issues, truth and lies, clear answers. Please don't let a candidate just change the subject. They should answer to the point at the question.

    October 15, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. rosethornne

    The President needs to bring some fishing tackle to land that flippity flopping romney.
    The romney's habitat is naturally the murky underbrush of financial skulduggery.
    It fares poorly in the sunlight, so the President should drag it out into the light so everyone can watch it flop and gasp.

    October 15, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  6. yep

    Hilarious. Obama doesn't go on the uber attack like he could of and he is panned for his poor performance. Romney goes on the attack and lies through his teeth and everyone goes wow what a great debate. Prediction. Obama will go on attack and ROmney will get his back side handed to him and then you will hear how unpresidential Obama was and he's obviously just the angry black man and we can't have him at the helm. If you are a dem or rep or an independent, if you haven't made your choice by now with all the information history and rhetoric out there you're probably not smarter than a 5th grader and maybe you should stay home on the day the adults go out to vote.

    October 15, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. Doudou

    The president Obama took the power when the country was almost collapsing. He did what he could to bring back the economy almost at the right place. He deserve 4 more years to complete his job. Romney is offering nothing special to american a part from giving wrong information about his ability to create job. Obama will surely win the election. Just wait and see.

    October 15, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. Joe

    I would say President Obama is doing an excellent job. Unemployment did decrease, housing marke has improved and overall a better America. Give him 4 more years and everything will be as good as 15 years ago. I believe he really cares and needs to get another chance.

    October 15, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  9. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Hopefully Obama will take some coffee this time around.

    October 15, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  10. Dave

    I love it when you see a poster say, "I've checked the facts" and then say they are for Romney. Low information voters. Gotta love 'em.

    October 15, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. Justeeny

    Tonight listening to Anderson 360, they had a talking head again bringing up Bush. It is so old listening to Obama blame Bush and claim that Romney is Bush. Romney isn't Bush, anymore than Obama is Clinton.

    "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." "

    Okay. Then can we expect to hear about what Obama has actually done in the last 4 years? In the first debate, one of the first things Obama said was he wanted the debate to be about the future. But that's not good enough. HE IS THE SITTING PRESIDENT. He needs to defend his record. He can't gloss over it and call it good and let's just move along and focus on the future. I want to talk about the results of the last 4 years. I want to talk about Obama's Administration. He needs to convince me that the next 4 years won't be a repeat of the last 4 years. Because that's exactly what I think.

    Obama hasn't run a campaign about his record or his vision. He has run a campaign against Romney.

    October 15, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  12. Jonb

    Romney's economic plan:

    Step 1. Cut taxes, cut spending, find magic loop holes to bring tax rate to where it would be before the cuts, cut regulations so comapnies with tax cuts don't have to hire anyone if they don't want to.

    Step 2. ???????

    Step 3. Profit!!!!

    October 15, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  13. NewsRaider

    Obama can ONLY go up from his last slipshod performance. His entire 4 years are in the gutter.

    October 15, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  14. Oy

    mikey....spreading the Obama Phone myth, I see. The poor have had discounted phone service since 1996!

    October 15, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Oy

    Igortman, what "facts"? Your man lies like a RUG and changes his opinions to suit his audience. Ted Kennedy knew it and so does Newt!!

    October 15, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. Amy

    Sure, let the Bush administration destroy our financial world with an unchecked deregulated Wall Street, start two unpaid for wars and shout Depression from the mountain top months from leaving office and then hand over the broken pieces to the next guy. Sure, Obama isn't a savior with a magic wand to defend against a nay-saying republican house bent on derailing the economy for political purpose. But do you actually think that more Bush politics is going to bring you ahead in this world? Unless you are part of the rich upper class, you are about to vote yourself into a ditch. It will be a world of more war, with the middle class working more hours with less pay, and no health care or even a safety net of social security when Wall Street crashes once again.

    October 15, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. Frank

    After Last debate, I actually find these expectations a bit high. And Romney's expectations low. So if this is Obama's Lowest, and this is Romney's highest. Then Obama has much more room to gain. Obama will win this debate because you are talking to the public. And Obama will win this presidency.

    October 15, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  18. Another ThinkBeforeYouRead Story

    Of course there is going to be lower expectations. Obama can't campaign on his jobs record... bringing gas prices down... increasing home values... So he tries to vilify Romney. And when debating, Obama is a good speech reader off the teleprompter but he is no narrator. He has no story to tell. Show me one ad, Obama's vision for the next four years other than not going back, must go Forward... Huh? Fact is Obama can't speak from the heart of his beliefs because he wants to win the election, it's just unfortunate that his record is dragging his campaign down!

    October 15, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  19. me

    obama's record speaks for itself. A complete failure. He will fail tuesday night yet again

    October 15, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. 2020

    If you think these debates will change how people see the future, you are dead wrong.

    There is a remarkable achievement on this administration in 4 years, and there were 8 years of absolutely disgraced Bush Cheney. it is pocket book issue, family security issue. For this, you don't ride on a Romney hot ballon. He add 2+2 =10. Do you want to buy Brookyn bridge for a penny?

    October 15, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  21. areolaman

    China creates economic plans which look 20 plus years in advance. Democratic politicians have the disadvantage of having to win the next election by somehow fixing a worldwide depression in 4 years.

    October 15, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  22. clarinet

    I'm amazed so many think Obama did such a lousy job in the first debate. He just did what he does without a teleprompter or without his media editing out the dumb stuff. For the next debate low expectations continue to be appropriate.

    October 15, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  23. DeeCee10000

    Truth is if he doesn't do really well on these next two debates, he might just lose the election sooooooo I would say the pressure is REALLY on this time.

    October 15, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  24. ForGoodOfAll

    Obama will win the town hall debate tomorrow. He will also have a second term. Obama/Biden 2012!

    October 15, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. David

    People have to understand what a "Cooperate Raider" is. They buy a large company and chop it up selling off the pieces. Then Bankrupt the largest piece keeping all the money and screwing the labor, taking their retirement, vacation, sick leave and out right firing them. What happens to the money? Its somewhere off shore. Bain is such a company, Romney and his multi-millionairs are such a business, Corporate raiders. Is this American?

    October 15, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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