CNN poll, pundits give Romney lopsided victory

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

A quick CNN poll of registered voters who watched the first presidential debate gave Gov. Mitt Romney a crushing victory over President Barack Obama.

Sixty-seven percent of the voters polled by CNN gave the victory to Romney, while only 25 percent claimed Obama won.

“For any candidate to get above 50-something, it is just huge,” said John King, CNN’s national correspondent. “You have a lot of president’s supporters saying he got spanked tonight.”

When asked who would better handle the economy, 55 percent of the respondents said Romney won. Only 43 percent said Obama won.

Romney even edged Obama on likability, 46 percent to 45 percent.

Most important, 35 percent of the respondents said they were more likely to vote for Romney, while only 18 percent said they were more likely to vote for Obama.

CNN’s guests and correspondents agreed that Romney won.

Romney “came in with a chainsaw,” complained James Carville, a Democratic political consultant.

Obama “seemed listless, he seemed angry. … I got the sense that the president would have preferred to be somewhere else,” said Carville, a former Bill Clinton adviser. “The president didn’t bring his A game.”

Obama looked angry, said senior CNN political analyst David Gergen, who served in White Houses from Nixon to Clinton. “I don’t think anyone has spoken to him that like in the last four years.”

“He lost. … It was a surprise to all of us,” Gergen added.

Progressive activist and former Obama appointee Van Jones complained about Romney and the moderator, but added that “Romney did an extraordinary job. … he was finally able to connect.”

“Tonight, [Romney] is presidential,” Jones said.

CNN’s reporters agreed.

“Everyone is just about scoring Romney the winner,” said chief CNN political correspondent John King.

Obama “could barely look at Mitt Romney,” said CNN pundit Gloria Berger. In contrast, Romney “was a very different Mitt Romney from the one we all watched during the primaries … tonight, he had it all together.”

“He was likable enough,” she said, adding that Romney successfully tied his policies to job creation. “That’s what he needs to do to win.”

Obama’s own people tried to spin the results.

Obama campaign press secretary Stephanie Cutter admitted that Romney “wins the preparation, he wins the style points,” but, she insisted, Obama “wasn’t speaking to the pundit class … he was speaking to the people at home.”

Also, “Romney got testy,” she charged.

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