Early impressions from last night’s debate indicate Mitt Romney won it. Most pundits agree that Romney had the strong performance and the instant polling and focus groups all seem to share the opinion. From CNN:
According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.
“No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.
The CBS News instant poll of uncommitted voters found similar results. From CBS News:
By a 2 to 1 margin, uncommitted voters crowned Mitt Romney the winner over President Obama in the first presidential debate in Debate, Colo., on Wednesday night, according to a 500-person instant poll taken by CBS News.
In the moments following the candidates’ performances on the University of Denver stage, 46 percent of voters gave the economy-centric debate to Romney, 22 percent said they believed the president was the winner, and 32 percent called it a tie. More good news for the GOP nominee: 56 percent of those polled said they viewed Romney in a better light after watching the debate. Eleven percent said their opinion of him dropped, and 32 percent cited no change in opinion.
In general Romney seemed more energetic and better prepared that Obama. Obama seems to be caught flat-footed and slow to respond. In addition, Obama failed to bring up half a dozen issues which have been the successful selling points in his campaign, including Bain, social issues, Romney’s 47% comment, and Romney’s tax returns.
Will Romney be seen as “winning” the debate matter? The answer is probably only to a minor degree. It probably will help Romney briefly energize his donors and volunteers, but it is unlikely to do much to close his deficit in the polls. There seemed to be no truly memorable gaffes, one liners or standout moments. The general impression was that Romney simply performed better than Obama, but there was no devastating game changing moment.
The simple fact is that analysis of past presidential elections indicate debates have only a very minor impact on the polling and there is little reason to believe this debate should end up being any different.