CNN Poll: Nearly half of debate watchers say Obama won showdown
October 22nd, 2012
11:24 PM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Nearly half of debate watchers say Obama won showdown

(CNN) - Give the slight edge to President Obama.

Thanks to an aggressive performance and a couple of zingers, a plurality of debate watchers questioned in a national survey say that the president won his final faceoff with Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

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But a CNN/ORC International poll conducted right after Monday night's faceoff here at Lynn University in south Florida also indicates that the debate may be a draw when it comes to whether it will affect the choice of voters who watched the showdown, and Romney held his own with the president on the commander-in-chief test.

And according to the survey, unlike previous debates, there was a big gender gap, with women responding much more favorably to Obama's performance and men giving a small advantage to Romney.

Forty-eight percent of registered voters who watched Monday night's third presidential debate say that Obama won the showdown, with 40% saying Romney did the better job in a debate dedicated to foreign policy. The president's eight-point advantage over the former Massachusetts governor came among a debate audience that was slightly more Republican than the country as a whole and is just within the survey's sampling error.

Nearly six in ten watchers say that Obama did a better job in the debate than they had expected, 15 points higher than the 44% who said that the GOP challenger had a better than expected debate performance.

The president was critical of Romney right out of the gate, saying a few minutes into the debate that "a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaeda. You said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the cold war's been over for 20 years."

And a moment later, he slammed Romney, saying "I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong."

Obama's aggressive strategy led the debate audience to give him a narrow 51%-46% edge on leadership, but it may have come at the cost of likeability.

"A majority of debate watchers said that President Obama seemed to be the stronger leader," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But on the question of likeability, the two candidates are essentially tied on a trait that has generally been an advantage for Obama. That's probably due to the fact that two-thirds of debate watchers felt that Obama spent more time than Mitt Romney on the attack."

But according to the poll, both candidates were seen by debate watchers as able to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief - an important threshold for Romney since he is not the incumbent. But men and women see the commander in chief question very differently.

Majorities of both genders saw Obama as capable of handling that role, but women were split roughly 50/50 on whether Romney had proven himself on that measure, while men responded well to Romney's performance. Women also saw Obama as the stronger leader; men saw Romney as having the edge on leadership. As a result, women saw Obama as the winner of the debate by 22 points, while a plurality of men saw Romney as the victor on Monday night.

Bottom line: The debate appears to be a draw when it comes to affecting the vote of those who tuned in to the faceoff.

Half of those questioned say that the debate did not affect how they would vote, with 25% saying they are more likely to vote for Romney and 24% saying they are more likely to cast a ballot for Obama.

The sample of debate-watchers in the poll was 34% Democratic and 30% Republican.

"That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is about five 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 448 registered voters who watched the debate questioned by telephone after the end of the October 22nd debate. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

By a 53%-23% margin, a CBS News poll conducted after the third debate of uncommitted voters also indicated that Obama won the showdown, with nearly one in four saying the debate was a tie.

"The second debate, the president clearly won and yet people came out saying that Romney would do a better job handling the economy. In this final debate the president won again, yet the poll clearly suggests that Romney passed the commander in chief test," says CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, who advised both Democratic and Republican presidents. "What is striking is that neither the second debate, or the third debate seemed to change the overall race, at least in the early hours."

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (1,324 Responses)
  1. Name

    I'm voteing obama he look fierce& ready to take on the next 4yrs. Of america he truly understands the ppl. He came from the middle class & he knew what he wanted as child & as he grow older he understand what has to be done to survive in america romney is just that a little boy tryna do big thangs this aint your home town were talking about this lives of all ppl. America & you came up wealthy enough to look down on those who are just that as fortunate as you so I understand your ignorance to all of the ppl. Who don't have money but I won't tollirate it so you don't have my vote!!#running with Obama

    October 23, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. obamaphone

    Obama is the shizzle! He gave me my new obamaphone so I can call all my homies! What what! Now I dont errr have to work again with all these gov't handouts me and my 8 kids get. I would vote for him, but I'm a convicted felon, so it's up to you America! Vote Obama, vote for a strong, extra lazy welfare class that leaches off all the tax payers money. HOLLA!

    October 23, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. mkd1580

    What a sad, sorry series of blogs I've just read. Romney won!!.... Obama won!!... Seriously people. 90% of you are watching with a predetermined slant, not listening with any sense of objectivity. This country is in pathetic shape... not because of the two men debating.... but because of the division, hatred, pandering, and propagating by the citizens of this country. No wonder we're going no where. Shame on you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 23, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. hk

    One more vote for Mr. Obama!

    October 23, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Guest

    All people talk about is Obama last 4 years and how bad it was. Did everyone all of sudden forget how bad Romney left Mass. It was terrible the state went from 36 to 47th in jobs,taxes and fees went up to 750 million a year and a long term debt of 2.6 billion. This is how bad he did just running one state imagine with 50? Obama 2012

    October 23, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Cindy

    The claim that Obama won last night's does not surprise me. Obama excells at BS and hot air, and spinning words which are "double-speak". The reality is that this debate is irrelevant. Obama had 4 years to make his words from his campaign 4 years become reality. But America is in a downward spiral. The truth is Romney was at his best when he focused on the fact that economic underpinnings affect foreign policy and American's lack of fiscal health affects national security.

    October 23, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. FightingStill

    If CNN's poll's are so accurate, why are CBS's polls saying the same thing? And why go to a news website you don't like to bash people that don't care what you think? I take great pleasure in knowing my vote and the votes of many others will CANCEL OUT YOURS!

    October 23, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Bob in Ohio

    Ann – you are quoting from Drudge? Please see my P.T. Barnum post.

    October 23, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Jay

    According to liberal CNN he won...

    According to the USA Romney wins!

    October 23, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. John & Polli

    John is right. A company that enters Chapter 11 needs financing and GM needed financing desperately. At the time in question, there was not private financing available due to the recession and the banking crisis. The choice at the time was funding from the government or a Chapter 11 that would have turned out to be liquidation of GM's assets and the end of counless thousands of jobs. Even the CEO of GM states unequivocally that Romney's plan would have been the end of General Motors. I'm no Obama cheerleader, but I do believe in credit where credit is due. Obama took a risk and it paid off. As a result, thousands of auto workers in Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere still have their jobs. It would be a true injustice in the end for Ohio voters, who are now enjoying a lower unemployment rate than the national average in part due to Obama's actions, to turn their backs on Obama. That would not be the midwest I grew up in.

    October 23, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. MIddle Class Swing State Voter

    Mongoose wrote:

    Anybody who thinks Romney won Debate 3 must think that Obama won Debate 1.

    I couldnt agree with you more! Great post!

    October 23, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. demidiot

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012 – d6esnot matter who says what – romney will be the wiinner??

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows Mitt Romney attracting support from 50% of voters nationwide, while President Obama earns the vote from 46%. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and two percent (2%) are undecided.

    October 23, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Canadian Voter

    You currently have a great President. The problem you have is that your expectations are to high. Do you think that any President, Republican or Democrat, could actually dig you out of the hole that Bush put you in, in 4 years. BO has done a great job uniting your country and the world. Unfortunately, the crap he had to fix outweighed the good he wanted to do. Give him a break. The alternative is that you vote for Romney at which point you become a red neck.

    October 23, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. Name

    No matter how well the president does America critics will not say that Obama did to Romney what Romney did to Him in the 1st debat nothing but accolades for Romney after the 1st debate where are those same accolades after the last to debates for Obama stop finding reasons not to commend for a job well done finally will someone please say do we want a president who's constantly changing his views n opinions when the heat is turned up

    October 23, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. jose garcia

    Obama good! He let me and me kids stay in country free and no worry bout deport. Me get free healthcare for me and me kids and no pay for nothing. Me like Obama!

    October 23, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Ron

    I am voting for Mr. Obama. He may not be the best; but he is the best there is.

    October 23, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. SkiOne

    Likeability? Is this something that people care about when it comes to foreign policy? Bu-bye Mittens, do you think he will try again in 4 years?

    October 23, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Name. CD in Florida

    Boils down to is this some are leaders who listen and lead and some are reactors with and gab with no direction. All the nay Sayers stop dissing the president and support the man that has true direction for this nation.

    October 23, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. mkd1580

    In a previous debate, when Obama stated we'd be out of Afghanistan in 2014, Romney called the statement "irresponsible" and "not good policy" to inform enemies when troop withdrawal would take place. Last night, Romney stated that "we'll be out of Afghanistan in 2014. FLIP-FLOP!! Romney needs to just go away

    October 23, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. Jim in Ohio

    What we have been witnessing for the past 4 years is "divided we fall"...and what we need is a transformative figure to compromise, act in a civil fashion, and actually get something done. I think I will vote for hope and change.

    October 23, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. Sly

    President Obama has completed 4 good years of Foreign Policy.

    He did what Bush failed to do – get Osama Bin Laden.
    He got Khadafy.
    He ended the Iraq war.
    And he is showing restraint in handing tough situations like Syria, Iran, Egypt and Libya.

    Mitt Romney doesn't show intelligence on foreign policy – thinking Russia is the biggest issue in the world.

    October 23, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. trex

    ..........I want a PRESIDENT, not a debater. Romney HAS BEEN wrong on every forgien policy venture, INCLUDING Mitt's DISASTER OF A TRIP OVERSEAS a couple months ago. Romney pizzed off our CLOSEST ALLY, and completely bollixed up his entire try at being presidential in the eyes OF THE WORLD. Russia is NOT the biggest threat and everybody with a brain KNOWS IT. Romney is NOT READY. Obama has been tearing Al Qaeda UP, and will CONTINUE HIS VENGENCE UPON THE LEADERS OF THOSE THAT LAUNCHED 9/11. I want Obama.

    October 23, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Doug

    CNN: This poll was a joke, and based on the uncomfortable looks on their faces, the on air talent knew it. James Carville was the only one with the integrity to bring up the elephant in the room. Anderson should feature himself and Wolf on a "keeping them honest" segment for failing to reveal the number of Republicans vs. Democrats who responded to the poll. Lousy polling, lousy journalism, it made me turn the channel.

    October 23, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Cheap security cameras

    Great performance by the president. Romney will say anything to anyone in order to win. But he wont win.

    October 23, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Oracularman

    cNN Inc. – STOP influencing the election for your business gains. After all you and ABC news are a corporations too who would like Mitt to be in charge at the cost of poor and middle class Americans.

    October 23, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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