CNN Poll: Split decision on debate
October 16th, 2012
11:46 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Split decision on debate

Hempstead, New York (CNN) - Give a slight edge to President Barack Obama.

Forty-six percent of voters who watched Tuesday night's presidential debate said that the president won the showdown, according to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Tuesday night's faceoff here at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island. Thirty-nine percent questioned said Republican nominee Mitt Romney did the better job.

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Obama's seven-point advantage came among a debate audience that was somewhat more Republican than the country as a whole and is within the survey's sampling error.

The president's edge on the question of who won the debate appears to be the result of his much better than expected performance and his advantage on likeability. But the poll also indicates that debate watchers said Romney would do a better job on economic issues. And the two candidates were tied on an important measure - whether the showdown would affect how the debate watchers will vote. Nearly half said the debate did not make them more likely to vote for either candidate, with the other half evenly divided between both men.

Tuesday night's poll only reflects the view of voters who watched the debate, not the views of all Americans. The reactions of all voters across the country to the second presidential debate must wait until polls are conducted in the coming days.

Nearly three quarters of debate watchers felt that Obama performed better than they had expected, with just one in ten saying that the president did worse. Only 37% said that the former Massachusetts governor did a better job in the debate than they had expected, with 28% saying Romney performed worse than they had expected prior to the faceoff, and one in three saying he performed the same as they expected.

According to the survey, Obama had a 47%-41% edge on which candidate was more likeable. But on some key issues, Romney came out on top, including an 18-point lead on the economy.

"Mitt Romney was seen as better able to handle the economy, taxes, and the budget deficit among the debate audience, but it seems that issues were trumped, or at least blunted, by intangibles, including the expectations game," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

By a 49%-35% margin, debate watchers thought that Obama spent more time attacking his opponent. The president was expected to be more forceful in attacking Romney following his lackluster performance in the first presidential debate in Denver two weeks ago.

Other questions showed little daylight between the two candidates among debate watchers on some key characteristics. Romney had a 49%-46% edge on which candidate seemed to be the stronger leader and 45%-43% margin on who answered questions more directly, while Obama had a 44%-40% advantage on which man seemed to care more about the audience members who asked questions.

Debate watchers were divided on whether Romney offered a clear plan for solving the country's problems, with more than six in ten saying the president didn't offer a clear plan.

What will it all mean in November?

On that measure, the debate can best be described as a tie. One-quarter of debate-watchers said the event made them more likely to vote for Obama, and an equal amount said it made them more likely to vote for Romney. Half said it would have no effect on their vote.

The sample of debate-watchers in this poll was 33% Democratic and 33% Republican.

"That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is about eight points more Republican than polls taken among all Americans throughout 2012, so the debate audience was more Republican than the general public," added Holland. "This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans. It only represents the views of people who watched the debate."

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC, with 457 registered voters who watched the debate questioned by telephone after the end of the debate. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

By a 37%-30% margin, a CBS News poll conducted after the second debate also indicated that Obama won the showdown.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Also on the CNN Political Ticker

- Colbert says he can't tell differences between Romney and Obama

- All tied up ahead of second Obama-Romney showdown

- Obama ad makes case for economic policies

- Romney message this week: 'A clear choice on debt and deficits'

- Largely hidden away, Obama reports debate prep 'going great'

soundoff (1,208 Responses)
  1. BadgerFan21

    To JamesAD:

    CNN wants this election to be a nailbiter, as do all 24 hr news networks. It is all about the ratings. And I agree, Obama clearly won this one.

    October 17, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. jc

    Seriously some of you are delusional. Fellow women scare me that they want Romney as President and the rest of the people scare me because they do not truly research the truth but spew what ever the networks say.

    October 17, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. LesleyR

    Candy was absolutely deplorable. Where did you find this moderator? It was clearly evident we know who she will be voting for. I was amazed how quickly she responded to Obama transcript on Libya, told Romey to take a seat, and gave him 43 minutes of time. I thought moderators were not biased, HAH

    October 17, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Justin

    I'm sorry .. 39% percent of the ppl watching could not possibly think Romney won. Romney looked flustered and constipated.

    October 17, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. ilir

    People Romney is a joke dont believe him hi it's not serioz

    October 17, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Goaty McCheese

    It's the economy, stupid.

    October 17, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Roman

    CNN.........Is all Democrat....sure they are going to state Obama had a edge. The only edge Obama had was about Bengazi that's about it. Everything else is failure!

    October 17, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. Dolgarth

    When the moderator has to help you during the debate. It's not because your doing well.

    October 17, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. dburgess

    Nearly "half say Obama won," talk about bias reporting. Sad.....

    October 17, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. Tim Benson

    Didn't like the debate format the moderator has too much control and their own biases can interfere... Should be in my opinion...1) coin flip first question, 2) Give the question to first candidate they get 2 minutes after that the microphone shuts off. 3) 2nd guy gets 2 minutes same deal mic goes dead, 3) 1st guy 30 seconds rebuttal, 4) 2nd guy 30 seconds more but each time mic goes dead at the time limit. And when one person is on the clock the others mic is off so they cannot interrupt. 5) Next question goes to the 2nd candidate first... just my opinion...just think it would be fair for both.

    October 17, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  11. Wildee7

    If Mitt calls experience, pillaging companies, dodging American taxes, shipping jobs to China, shadey deals with known drug cartels, and gloating about getting "easy" government money to bail out the olympics, he can use his experience for a job more suited to him, "CROOK"!

    October 17, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  12. leonardo

    Should read Obama/Crowley=49%. Crowley's performance was both unprofessional and untrue. CNN=the new MSNBC.

    October 17, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  13. Kristi

    Your unrestrained emotional involvement in the debate last night did more to set back women's rights than anything Romney would purportedly do as president. You made headlines primarily because you inserted yourself into the debate by falsely playing fact checker, which was outside the bounds of your responsibilities.

    The stats also show:
    You interrupted Romney more than three times as much as you interrupted Obama
    You gave Obama a distinct time advantage
    Candy was not picked to be a debate participant, but she made the debate about herself and her preferences. Candy's poor performance would have been a career death sentence with the journalistic standards of 30 years ago.
    Candy proved herself to be the stereotypical woman ruled by emotions rather than professional standards. I could not be more disappointed.

    October 17, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. Erin

    Obama clearly won.....

    October 17, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. tonyl

    split hell-obama rocked him..lolo

    October 17, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. truthteller

    All you Obamna supporters what you may get in the next four Years. I don't. But you may take me over the cliff
    with you. Please tell me bloggers/ What has Obama done that you really approve of as far as his economic policy

    October 17, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  17. Name kon

    Obama for middle class ,mitt for his rich friends

    October 17, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. Mungstu Teshome

    Clearly people yesterday The commander in Chief won in a huge margin know matter what you guys say. The president came out and show Robme who the leader is give him the credit. Robme is a stupid lair. He need to be kicked out of this country and never return. He does not care for middle class, the immigrant and women right to equality. People of the United State of America i want to ask every one to stop playing game and let as choose President Obama to be reelected for four more years. Let us not waste our time on stupid sales man who is trying to sale the united state off shore. I am a republican who is VERY, VERY, VERY disappointed with this bureaucrat.

    October 17, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. Rose

    I think it's great. I just read on TMZ that the head honchos at CNN are mad at Candy Crowley for her deplorable conduct at the debate last night and the fact that she interjected herself into the debate. CNN apparently is concerned about his brand as being an impartial news organization. If so, they need to make a public statement denouncing Crowley's behavior and fire her immediately!

    October 17, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  20. barbery

    Obama won the debate, period. The poll opinions don't add up. Neither does the commentary. Really beginning to wonder about CNN's agenda.

    October 17, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  21. aurelius

    This page has been taken over by FOX. Anything that's pro Obama is subject to review.

    October 17, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. RG

    I think CNN being partial in being putting Report on Obama victory. Obama definately won by higher margin probably by 80%. And he is very clearly expose Mitt Romney double standards and untrust worthiness. I think media should report fair and impartial. In this debate CNN poll definately adjusted to favor Republicans. There is NO WAY 39% audience approve Mitt as his response cleary showed his double standards. OBAMA HAS WON THIS DEBATE HANDS DOWN with huge margin.

    October 17, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  23. GWB

    What makes the President's performance even more outstanding is that the CNN poll was weighted with 8% MORE Republicans than usual. How many MORE Republicans voted for the President than for Romney.

    October 17, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. Sharon Khardaji

    President Obama clearly won this debate, but the Pundits on CNN try to spin it for Romney! CNN, shame on all you pundits on CNN!! When watching the Debate Mitt Romney showed totally arrogance and disrespect when addressing our President, when he held his hand up and told our President "You will get your turn" and arrogantly dismissing him! If any other citizen would have dared addressed any past President in such a way, it would be criticized all over the world and by every news pundit in the nation!It makes me wander if the race of our President is truly the reason such as this was let go, Cnn giving Romney a pass. How dare you let such disrespect and foul behavior of this man to slid without a word!!! I will never again watch CNN because it clear you also are biased, and in bed with Romney! It clear you are not with the American people and what is best for our people, because if you did you would have done your job and called out Romney for his rude and foul behavior toward our President and his blatant lies to the American people. I am a woman and I believe that President Obama was very Presidential and stood firm when rebuking Romney on his lies, but did it in a very firm but respectful way. This is the sign of a true leader, and shows he could stand up against any other leader around the world if necessary. He proved to the world he could stand tall, and with grace but with firmness if was forced to face another leader threatening our nation! Thank God for our President!

    Very disappointed with CNN, and their biased coverage,
    Sharon Khardaji

    October 17, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  25. Belmont resident

    This is how Mitt will cut the deficit... the same model he used as Governor of MA!

    Romney successfully closed a $3 billion budget gap in his first fiscal year as governor of Massachusetts. He succeeded in closing the shortfall without raising the state sales or income taxes — a notable accomplishment. But he also balanced the budget largely by cutting state aid to cities and towns, many of which responded by raising property taxes. In his first two years in office, Romney presided over a 15 percent cut in spending on unrestricted aid to cities and towns; he also cut more than 4 percent of funding for local schools. Largely as a result, the average local property tax bill jumped more than $700 a year, or about 24 percent, to $3,962 from $3,206

    October 17, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
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