Obama RomneyPresident Obama was seen as having outperformed Mitt Romney in the final presidential debate. The instant national and swing state polling gave Obama the edge last night. While Obama’s advantage among all voters was relatively small, he won big among uncommitted voters.

Among all voters Obama was seen as having narrowly won according to CNN polling:

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.

Similarly, PPP’s polling of voters in swing states shows that a majority thought Obama had the stronger performance:

PPP’s post debate poll in the swing states, conducted on behalf of Americans United for Change, finds that Barack Obama was the big winner in tonight’s face off. 53% of those surveyed in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin think Obama was the winner to 42% who pick Romney.

Obama’s winning margin among critical independent voters was even larger than his overall win, with 55% of them picking him as the winner to 40% for Romney. The sense that Obama was the winner is pretty universal across different demographics groups- women (57/39), men (48/45), Hispanics (69/29), African Americans (87/13), whites (49/45), young voters (55/40), and seniors (53/43) all think Obama came out ahead tonight.

Most importantly, Obama won big among uncommitted voters according to the CBS News poll.

Immediately after it wrapped, 53 percent of the more than 500 voters polled gave the foreign policy-themed debate to Mr. Obama; 23 percent said Romney won, and 24 percent felt the debate was a tie. Uncommitted voters in similar polls gave the first debate to Romney by a large margin, but said Mr. Obama edged the GOP nominee in the second debate.

Mitt Romney dominated the first debate but Obama managed to win both the second and third debates by a respectable margin.

Since foreign policy simply isn’t a priority for voters at this time, I doubt Obama winning last night’s debate will significantly move the needle in his direction. Both candidates basically acknowledge that foreign policy is not what will move voters this election, so they tried as often as possible to steer the conversation to talk of domestic policy.

Obama currently holds a small lead in the swing state polls so any performance that was merely strong enough to prevent further slippage in the polls is a political victory for the Obama team. This debate was probably Romney’s last real chance to make big gains against Obama and he didn’t seem to capitalize on it.

Photo by Steve Rhodes under Creative Commons license