Gallup: Romney Narrows Vote Gap After Historic Debate Win So He’s Tied With Obama (UPDATED)
Gallup reports that Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s widely acknowledged debate victory over what many perceived as an ill-prepared and/or hapless President Barack Obama has now brought the race to a dead heat — erasing a five-point lead Obama had before what has come to be known as Obama’s Debacle in Denver. Gallup also says Romney’s win is “historic”: the most definitive win it has ever measured since it started taking polls on debates.
Registered voters’ preferences for president are evenly split in the first three days of Gallup tracking since last Wednesday’s presidential debate. In the three days prior to the debate, Barack Obama had a five-percentage-point edge among registered voters.
Gallup typically reports voter presidential preferences in seven-day rolling averages; the latest such average as of Saturday interviewing shows Obama with an average three-point edge, 49% to 46%, among registered voters. This Sept. 30-Oct. 6 field period includes three days before the Oct. 3 debate, the night of the debate itself, and three days after the debate.
Even on this basis, the race has become somewhat more competitive compared with before the first debate. Obama held four- to six-point leads in Gallup’s seven-day tracking results in the eight days prior to the Oct. 3 debate.
Gallup says this debate win is “historic”:
An Oct. 4-5 Gallup poll finds roughly two in three Americans reporting that they watched the Oct. 3 debate, similar to what Gallup measured for each of the three 2008 presidential debates. Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72% to 20%. Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49% to 39%…
….Gallup has assessed opinion on who did better in most past presidential debates; some of these polls were conducted the night of the debate with pre-recruited samples of debate watchers immediately after it concluded, and some were conducted with more general samples of Americans in the days that followed the debate. Across all of the various debate-reaction polls Gallup has conducted, Romney’s 52-point win is the largest Gallup has measured. The prior largest margin was 42 points for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in the 1992 town hall debate.
Its bottom line:
The first presidential debate went decidedly in Romney’s favor. The debate appears to have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the debate compared with the three days prior. Still, the impact was not so strong that it changed the race to the point where Romney emerged as the leader among registered voters. Rather, at least in the first three days of Gallup tracking after the debate, the race is tied.
But even that small movement is significant, given the competitiveness of the race throughout this presidential campaign year and the fact that debates rarely transform presidential election races.
However, the generally positive unemployment report released on Friday may serve to blunt some of Romney’s post-debate momentum.
In any case, with a month to go before Election Day, the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is still very much in doubt. That certainly raises the stakes for both candidates in the next two debates, Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.
*** Has the race changed? We all assume that the presidential contest has changed following last week’s debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The most recent sign: Gallup’s daily tracking, which had Obama up 50%-45% among registered voters in the three days before the debate, but shows the race tied 47%-47% in the three days after. But to see if the race has truly changed, we’re awaiting battleground-state polls conducted over the weekend through today — to fully let the debate, job numbers, and everything else sink in. The body language from both campaigns suggests that the race did change; you’re seeing 1) a more confident Romney camp and 2) an Obama campaign with a greater sense of urgency. And if the upcoming polls show this, it will give Team Romney another shot in the arm, just like Obama got after the conventions. But it’s also very possible that the race hasn’t fundamentally changed, but simply tightened and is back to where everyone thought it would be six months ago. Where are the battleground states, polling wise by the end of this week? Is Ohio a margin-of-error contest, or is the president still ahead by 4-6 points? What about Wisconsin? Iowa? These are the three states where Romney had fallen far behind and needed to make up the most ground.
A Huffington Post updated chart of polls shows how close the race is now — with Obama barely ahead:
Meanwhile, it’s now reported that Obama was not good a lot of time in his debate preps and some aides were worried as soon as they landed in Denver.