Post-debate polls show Obama won

David Goldman/AP
Polls taken in the aftermath of the third presidential debate show President Obama won a decisive victory.

A CNN/ORC poll showed 48 percent believed Obama won, while 40 percent believed Romney did. The poll showed Obama as the stronger leader, but had that the two tied on likability. It was conducted by telephone among 448 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The poll showed that Obama outperformed expectations for 59 percent of voters, while only 15 percent said he was weaker than expected and 23 percent said he performed on par with their expectations. The margin for Romney was much smaller, outperforming the expectations of 44 percent of respondents and performing weaker than expected in the eyes of 26 percent. Another 26 percent said he performed as expected.

In a CBS News instant online poll of 521 uncommitted voters – those who are either undecided or open to changing their vote – Obama bested Romney 53 percent to 23 percent, with 24 percent saying the debate was a tie. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

After the first debate, which revolved more around economic and tax policy, 46 percent of uncommitted voters in the CBS poll said Romney won the debate, versus 22 percent who said the same of President Obama. Thirty-two percent said it was a tie.

The uncommitted voters in the CBS poll gave Obama the lead on several specific metrics. They said Obama would do a better job in issues of terrorism and national security by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent, and 71 percent said they trusted Obama to handle an international crisis versus 49 percent who said the same of Romney.

The issue of U.S. policy toward China ended in a draw with voters splitting evenly – 50 percent and 50 percent – on who would do a better job.

As Slate’s David Weigel notes, the CNN poll also had some results that could cheer Romney supporters. On the question, “Do you think Mitt Romney can or cannot handle the responsibilities of Commander-in Chief?” a majority of voters said yes, 60 percent to 38 percent.

The debate appeared to do little to move the conversation. Twenty-four percent of the registered voters in the CNN poll said it made them more likely to vote for Obama, 25 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Romney, but 50 percent answered “neither.”
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