Post-debate polls split, deny Obama clear victory

Post-debate instant polls split over who won Tuesday night’s second presidential debate, possibly marking a failure by President Barack Obama to counter Gov. Mitt Romney’s victory in their first head-to-head contest.

The instant polls, however, will be overshadowed by more routine polls taken over the next few days by Gallup, Pew, Rasmussen and other polling firms.

According to a post-debate check of 525 uncommitted voters surveyed by CBS, “56% of uncommitted voters say [President] Obama would do a better job helping the middle class; 43% say Romney would.”

But the CBS respondents also said Romney would manage the economy better.

CBS tweeted shortly after the debate that “65% thought Romney would do a better job on the economy (down from 71% [before the debate]); 34% said Pres Obama would (up from 27%).”

A CNN poll of debate-watchers said 46 percent gave the victory to Obama, while 39 percent said Romney took the win.

Neither candidate won a majority of respondents’ votes. CNN’s respondents were evenly divided among Republicans, Democrats and independents.

CNN’s poll of registered voters suggested that Romney won across the board — albeit slightly — on a series of specific issues.

Forty-nine percent said Romney was a strong leader, compared to 46 percent for Obama. Forty-nine percent said Romney would better handle health care, versus 46 percent for Obama.

Romney scored 51 percent approval on taxes, and 59 percent on the deficit, compared to 44 percent and 36 percent for Obama, respectively.

A poll of 438 debate-watching Colorado independents by Public Policy Polling reported that 37 percent said they will be more likely to vote for Obama after the debate, versus 36 percent for Romney. Forty percent of the Colorado watchers said their opinion of Obama improved during the debate, while 44 percent said their opinion of Romney rose.

A CNN panel of what the network said were 35 undecided Ohio voters favored Romney slightly, 18 to 17. The poll “was basically a draw,” said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“Romney was not damaged [and] I not sure he was slowed down at all,” said Alex Castellanos, a GOP commentator.

Van Jones, a progressive activist and Obama’s former “green jobs czar,” chimed in that “I think [Obama] did stop the momentum” of voters clamoring towards Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor won the Oct. 3 debate in Denver so conclusively that almost half the Democrats who viewed it declared Romney the victor.

Since then, Romney’s poll ratings have climbed steadily, putting him ahead of Obama in several large polls.

Several Democratic legislators, however, declared that Obama won the second debate. “I think whatever ground the president lost in the first debate he more than made up for in this debate,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer claimed.

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