Obama Won Presidential Debate, 46 Percent Say in CNN Poll

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney debate their positions on tax policy, immigration, contraception, gun control and Libya. CNN's Candy Crowley moderated last night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. This is the second of three matchups between the two candidates this month. (Source: Bloomberg)

President Barack Obama won last night’s presidential debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a CNN/ORC International poll of 457 registered voters who watched the nationally televised event.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said Obama fared better in the debate, compared with 39 percent for Romney, according to results aired on CNN after the event. The poll found 73 percent said Obama’s performance exceeded expectations, compared with 37 percent who said Romney did better than expected.

CNN’s telephone survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Thirty-three percent of participants identified themselves as Republicans and 33 percent as Democrats, according to the survey.

The showdown gained added significance after a majority of voters in polls said Obama lost to Romney in their first debate on Oct. 3. Romney has since gained in national and state surveys, and Obama’s campaign had promised a stronger performance by the president in last night’s faceoff.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released this week gave Romney a 50 percent to 46 percent edge among likely voters in the 12 states that strategists in both parties say will decide who wins the White House on Nov. 6.

Voters in 11 states, including the battlegrounds of Iowa and Ohio, already have begun casting ballots. By week’s end, four of the nine most competitive states will have early, in- person voting under way.

Viewership Down

Last night’s town-hall style debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, featured questions from undecided voters and was moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. About 61 million viewers watched it on cable and broadcast television, down 9 percent from the first debate, according to Nielsen data released today by media outlets.

Romney led Obama by 18 percentage points on the question of who would do a better job handling the economy, while the president led his rival 49 percent to 47 percent on foreign policy, according to the CNN post-debate poll. Obama was viewed as more likeable by 47 percent of respondents, compared with 41 percent for Romney.

In a CBS News/GfK poll of uncommitted voters after the debate, 37 percent said they thought Obama won compared with 30 percent for Romney and 33 percent who called the match a draw. The survey of 525 people, with an error margin of 4 points, showed that 65 percent of respondents thought Romney would do a better job on the economy.

First Debate

The two candidates meet in one more debate on Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Florida.

After the first presidential debate two weeks ago in Denver, 67 percent of those surveyed by CNN said Romney fared better, compared with 25 percent for Obama, according to results aired by the cable channel after the event. Forty-six percent said they found Romney more likeable, compared with 45 percent for Obama, CNN reported.

The CNN post-debate poll on Oct. 3 interviewed 430 Americans and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Shepard in Washington at mshepard7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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