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.”
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.