Romney Leads Obama in Pew Likely Voter Poll After Debate

President Obama and Republican Presidential Candidate Romney
Moderator Jim Lehrer, anchor of the NewsHour on PBS television, left, moderates a debate between U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, on Oct. 3. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Republican nominee Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama by 4 percentage points among likely voters in a Pew Research Center poll that shows the Republican challenger getting a bounce from last week’s debate.

The survey taken Oct. 4-7, following the Oct. 3 presidential debate in Denver, gave the former Massachusetts governor 49 percent among likely voters and Obama 45 percent. Among registered voters, 66 percent said Romney won the debate and 20 percent said Obama did.

A Pew poll of likely voters taken Sept. 12-16 gave Obama a 51 percent to 43 percent lead, the widest margin of any nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996.

The latest Pew poll showed Romney even with Obama among women likely voters at 47 percent apiece, while leading among men, 51 percent to 43 percent. Last month, Obama held an 18-point edge among women, 56 percent to 38 percent, and trailed by 2 points among men, with 48 percent backing Romney and 46 supporting the president. Independent likely voters backed Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent; they split 45 percent to 44 percent for Obama in September.

Better on Jobs

Registered voters said Romney would do better on improving the job situation, 49 percent to 41 percent. Last month, they said Obama would be better, 46 percent to 45 percent.

The poll of 1,112 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Among 1,201 registered voters, the margin of error was 3.3 percentage points.

Among the likely voters, 36 percent identified as Republican, 31 percent as Democratic and 30 percent as independent. The September poll was 39 percent Democratic and 29 percent Republican.

Party identification is fluid and can change from poll to poll, depending on voter attitudes about the candidates, said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup poll.

“Your age doesn’t fluctuate except once a year,” Newport said. Pollsters, though, “can call people back and you’ll see significant shifting” in whether they identify with a party or consider themselves independent, he said.

Tracking Poll

Obama retained an advantage over Romney in the daily Gallup tracking polling after the survey showing the two tied following the debate.

The seven-day poll spanning a period through yesterday showed a 5-percentage-point edge for Obama among registered voters.

In polling Oct. 4-6 -- the three days after Obama and Romney debated in Denver -- Gallup found 47 percent of registered voters supporting the president and 47 percent his Republican rival. In the three days before the debate, Obama led Romney, 50 percent to 45 percent, the polling found.

The results of Gallup’s latest seven-day survey, Oct. 1-7, show Obama again favored among 50 percent, Romney 45 percent. This included weekend polling following the release of the Labor Department’s report on Oct. 5 showing a 7.8 percent unemployment rate, the lowest since Obama took office.

The rolling average of seven days of interviews by Gallup with 3,050 registered voters carries a possible margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Debate Viewership

An Oct. 4-5 Gallup poll found “roughly 2 in 3 Americans reporting that they watched the Oct. 3 debate, similar to what Gallup measured for each of the three 2008 presidential debates,” the polling organization’s Jeffrey Jones said today.

“Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72 percent to 20 percent,” Jones said. “Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49 percent to 39 percent.”

Obama, at a fundraising concert last night in Los Angeles, poked fun at his lackluster debate showing and vowed to do better.

Thanking rock musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry and others who “perform flawlessly night after night,” Obama told the 6,000 guests: “I can’t always say the same.”

And at a separate event with 150 guests Obama said, “I’m a big believer in closing the deal. You will see me working as hard as I’ve ever worked” through Election Day, Nov. 6.

‘Harshest Critic’

Earlier yesterday, two of Obama’s campaign aides said the president was disappointed with the debate outcome.

“The president understood that he hadn’t performed up to his own expectations pretty quickly into -- after he got off the stage that night,” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Obama “is his harshest critic,” David Axelrod, an Obama campaign strategist, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“He’ll look at that tape and make the adjustments he thinks are necessary,” Axelrod said.

The Obama campaign and Democratic strategists used the Sunday talk shows to try to change the perception that the president lost to an aggressive and lively Romney at the debate at the University of Denver by portraying the former Massachusetts governor as willing to say anything.

Romney was “completely dishonest” and “distorting” and “ignoring” facts, Axelrod said.

‘Taken Aback’

Asked why Obama didn’t make those arguments during the debate, Axelrod said, “he was a little taken aback at the brazenness with which Governor Romney walked away from so many of the positions on which he’s run, walked away from his record.”

Democrats have pointed to Romney’s tax-cut plan and his views on teacher hiring as departures from previous campaign statements. Also at the debate, Romney said pre-existing conditions are covered in his health-care proposal; after the debate, his own campaign aides said the plan doesn’t guarantee coverage.

A new Obama campaign online ad highlights those issues. In the minute-long spot, a narrator says of Romney, “when the cameras rolled, a performance began.”

Gibbs, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said Obama would be “engaged” at the next debate, a town-hall style event Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Obama is “ready and willing to call out whichever Mitt Romney shows up,” Gibbs said.

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Romney, who defeated him in this year’s Republican presidential primaries, trounced Obama.

‘Walked Over Him’

“Mitt Romney walked over him,” Gingrich said on “Meet the Press.”

“The job of the president is supposed to be, to be competent, and to be able to stand up for what he believes in, and to be able to articulate what’s wrong,” Gingrich said.

Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist not working for Romney, said on “Meet the Press” that the estimated 67 million people who watched the debate saw Romney as “a guy brimming with new ideas and energy” while Obama appeared to be “sleepwalking.”

Gallup’s survey of 1,387 registered voters over the three days after the debate had an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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