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. Harry

    This debate will give Obama a great boost to win this election .Obama is a honest leader. Romney will be caught lying to americans with all his flip flops in every matter every other day to any issues.Romney can not be trusted with his plans and policy talks when he do not have any.Romney is Job KILLER with all his greed to get wealthy at the coast of working Americans.

    October 15, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  2. clare

    Tomorrow, President Obama will be in excellent shape,rested,and ready for lying romney. i hope he asks about the new plant that was built in china that bains is involved with that will hire 5000 chinese, after the close of another factory here. wake up America. we know the president. Do you know Romney? He will destroy our economy in support of the "'NEW WORLD ORDER," that he is a part of. so was Bush sr & jr. the rich continues to buy up the gold, because our money is no good.

    October 15, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  3. southernwonder

    all economic indicators are solidly up and at historical levels. except the job indicator, which is usually a lagging indicator and is showing great improvement. obama can just let the numbers do the talking and he should come out with flying colors because these numbers ultimately have a bearing on our foriegn policy as well. if you are working american, you really never had it so good:
    – almost no inflation
    – interest rate all time low in the entire american history
    – exports more than doubled
    – oil imports going down down down; hey, we are a net oil exporter – another great first.
    – tax cut for the middle class easily observable on your pay check that puts more money in your pocket.
    – if you have college going kid you have seen increased deduction.
    – house pricing appreciating
    – health insurance more coverage at for less premium
    – all the above together gives you substantial savings. combine that with the creation of thousands of high quality manufactring jobs, you feel more secure in your jobs. and not surprisingly, this is relfected in improved consumer confidence which we saw in today's number giving a huge boost to dow jones which too is at fixing to hitting historic highs.

    really, a working american never had it so good. and for the people between jobs, there is a palpable hope.

    October 15, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Linda Brinkley

    I agree! it seem like the media is trying to sway the american people.★★★ Obama/Biden 2012

    October 15, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. Jdevil1735

    The thing is – this isn't a debate. This is a town hall. This is simply a beauty contest and has no real substance. They should be having TRUE debates.

    October 15, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. shuman

    Let Obama finish his term, and then bid him farewell.

    His ideological fixation, lack of leadership, and inept administrative skills are no longer needed in our employ.

    October 15, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  7. Mass. Resident

    In my opinion, Obama won the last debate hands down.
    The Mitt Romney on stage that night was, in my opinion, a complete and total liar.

    When is he going to show me what he was doing while the rest of America was reeling from the "worst economic downturn since the Great Depression"? When is he going to do – as all presidential candidates in my lifetime have – and release his tax returns? My guess is never. Because if he did, he'd be exposing himself as being an incredibly greedy tax dodger and, a man who has no loyalty to anyone but his own. Contrary to the so-called "Tea Party" and their incomprehensible support for this shyster, I truly believe our "founding fathers" would've 'tarred and feathered' this sorry excuse of a man.

    October 15, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. Keep This In Mind

    I'm concerned about this country drawing down on its national defense systems. President Obama seems on board with that, but it's not only Democrats, but Republicans, too. Voters should look seriously at what this Start II Treaty entails. Bad deal for us, very bad deal. Romney needs to step up the discourse on reassurance he won't continue the trend to disarm ourselves and help reverse this nonsense about everybody being our 'friends' and going completely weak on being able to defend ourselves.

    October 15, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  9. Beezy

    obama really does not stand a chance in all honesty. you can spin it all you want, blame the gop all you want but obama is not a leader. if he was a leader he could get republicans and dems to work together. he would not pass the blame on everything. i will admit he tried to get both parties to work together but he failed and now this country is so divided i dont see a way out. we need a change in direction and we need it now.

    October 15, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Poll City

    Once again, the pollsters only call landlines so the younger generation that is more the cell phone only crowd are under represented. And for Obama in much higher numbers. Obama in a landslide.

    October 15, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  11. Lost

    Flip-Flopney needs to shut the hell up about any foreign crisis happening right now. His hostile gushings will only incite for attacks against the US. How can he be allowed to interfere with national security by openly calling the commander-in-chief weak? This only fuels the passions of enemies. What a foolish man...and he would make a foolish president. BO2012!

    October 15, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  12. Ron Anderson

    Why are you gutless repubs hating on Our President after all he has done for this country.!!Grow a brain and heart.You will when your loved ones have to fight Willard Rommney's
    WWIII...He is clueless.

    October 15, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  13. Billy

    Done already voted in Ohio, first day matter of fact. There were no lines, even asked the board of elections if I had the right day as I was expecting to see Obama supporters out in massee . To make it short I voted for Romney this throwing billions away at green energy by Obama and seeing the Chinese manufacture it faster than we can get a assembly line going is crazy! Obama is not investing his money, the money is the taxpayers! I'll trust Romney that
    invested knowing a risk of failure to his own billfold over Obamas irresponsibility.

    October 15, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  14. Mass. Resident

    I had Romney for a govenor for four years. Trust me America, you do Not want this man as our president.
    He will continue to do as he has always done. He will be the ultimate chameleon, and liar.

    October 15, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. Brian

    Obama is not perfect but he has made great strides and he believes in our country. Romney is shaky character and his tax returns tell the whole story. What a coward. He in nothing like his father. Don't believe me? Do some research.

    October 15, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. RBSG

    If you're still "undecided" and making your decision based mainly on how these guys debate, then you are probably not the kind of person who should be voting anyway, making decisions that the rest of us have to live with.

    October 15, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  17. suki33

    So Gibbs says now that the President knew when he walked off the stage that he needed to change. Interesting because other reports have said the President thought he did just fine and it took an intervention (and probably being dissed by all his celebrity and media friends) to get his attention that he needed to change his ways. Must be hard to be a star and be brought to earth when you goof up by showing your petulant side on nationwide TV.

    October 15, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  18. dnokc

    Mr. Obama once again will be an "empty chair". No record to stand on...no teleprompter to read, no vision, no solutions. At least Hillary manned up for the Libyan fiasco.

    October 15, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. Rahiq Syed

    This shouldn't be surprising because he is known for his laziness as a campaigner and a President.

    October 15, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. Trainman

    Even though he inherited a big mess from the previous GOP administration and we still have a long way to go, President Obama has started to turn the economy around in spite of all the Republican resistance during the past 4 years. Sorry Jack, but flip flop Romney just doesn't cut the mustard. There is so much untrue Republican propaganda out there. I support President Obama.

    October 15, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  21. carrol

    From my point of view the president will be more vibrant than the frist debate

    October 15, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  22. Deepen

    Can't wait! We'll see a new and fired up Obama! just see him on the campaign trail! he's ready to take down Romney the Liar!

    October 15, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  23. John Oboho

    So when a candidate is energetic in telling lies it becomes a win?When the other coolly tells the truth it becomes unenergetic & a loss?Americans,some Americans,it seems,are knocked senseless by stagecraft.

    October 15, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  24. mr mike

    I voted for Obama before, now ...in 2012....nope. Its sad but he has not done a great job. He needs a tele to talk. Not my kind of president.

    October 15, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  25. edvhou812

    Obama won my state before the election even started, and both parties are just different shades of grey. So guess what I won't be watching since it would be a complete waste of time?

    October 15, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
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