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Polls: Obama Won Debate

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (R) and Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) smile after their debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee October 7, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (R) and Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) smile after their debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee October 7, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

Once again, the early media polls show that Barack Obama won the debate.

CBS “conducted nationally representative poll of uncommitted voters to get their immediate reaction” and found:

Forty percent of the 516 uncommitted voters surveyed identified Barack Obama as tonight’s winner; 26 percent said John McCain won, while 34 percent saw the debate as a draw.

After the debate, 68 percent of uncommitted voters said that they think Obama will make the right decisions on the economy, compared to 55 percent who said that before the debate. Fewer thought McCain would do so — 48 percent after the debate, and 41 percent before.

Before the debate, 59 percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to 80 percent after the debate. For McCain, 33 percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and 44 percent thought so afterwards.

There is some good news for McCain, who still dominates Obama when it comes to perceptions of readiness to be president. Before the debate, 42 percent thought Obama was prepared for the job, and that percentage rose to 58 percent after the debate. But 77 percent felt McCain was prepared for the job before the debate, and 83 percent thought so afterwards.

Meanwhile, CNN merely “national poll of debate watchers,” with no mentioned attention to weighting for demographic factors, and found:

Fifty-four percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted after the debate ended said that Obama did the best job in the debate, with 30 percent saying John McCain performed better.

A majority, 54 percent, said Obama seemed to be the stronger leader during the debate, to 43 percent for McCain. By a greater than two to one margin — 65 percent to 28 percent — viewers thought Obama was more likeable during the debate.

[...]

A majority of debate watchers polled thought Obama was more intelligent, by a 57 percent to 25 percent margin over McCain. Twice as many debate watchers also thought Obama more clearly expressed than McCain, with 60 percent giving the nod to the Democratic nominee and 30 percent to his GOP opponent.

Paul Mirengoff also makes a good point here:

I thought that Barack Obama won the “visuals” of tonight’s debate. He looked younger and more vigorous, of course, but, in addition, John McCain did too much moving around. He seemed focused on addressing a “town hall,” as he has done so well over the years. But in reality, as Obama seemed quicker to appreciate, the audience tonight was in the television land. To them, McCain’s movement must have seemed a bit aimless.

I, too, thought it odd that McCain seemed to randomly turn his back to the camera to talk to people in the studio audience rather than the millions watching at home.

We’ll see in the national polls — and the more important battleground state polls — whether either candidate gets any movement out of last night’s debate.  My guess, though, remains that it will be a wash.  Which, given the dynamics of the race, is as good as a win for Obama.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Just one more piece of evidence that a majority of Americans are “in the tank” for Obama. Shameless, really….

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  2. Bithead says:

    So CBS generates a poll that says the leftist won the debate.
    Could that not have been predicted, even without seeing said debate?

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  3. sam says:

    So CBS generates a poll that says the leftist won the debate.

    It ain’t only CBS, Bit.

    RealClear Politics

    Political Animal

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  4. Joe Schmoe says:

    I consider myself generally anti-union, pro-free-trade, anti-regulation, ambivalent on abortion, anti-affirmative-action, pro-small-government, neutral on ANWR, neutral on gay marriage, pro-school-vouchers. Yet I’m still going to vote Democratic. Why?

    Because I think that competently executed non-optimal policies are still much better than poorly executed policies that might actually be more in line with my overall philosophy. The Republicans seem to be too busy playing the culture wars to actually care about competency, intelligence, well-reasoned positions, and actual knowledge. The Michelle Malkins and Rush Limbaughs are a real turn-off.

    That’s not to say that there are not smart, capable Republicans that I would consider voting for. It’s just the Republicans never seem to field them as candidates, at least not in recent history.

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  5. anjin-san says:

    So CBS generates a poll that says the leftist won the debate

    Bit begins the day with a whine when reality intrudes on the bitverse.

    Could this not have been predicted without a visit to OTB?

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  6. Bystander says:

    I simply can’t believe that with all of the capable candidates we have in either party, we end up with these two. Obama just shouldn’t be president, and McCain doesn’t deserve it. After carefully TRYING to listen to them, I am still undecided … but moving toward MaCain because even though I disagree with some of the candor of his views, at least I understand them. I don’t like surprises, and I suspect that Obama is going to be full of them – and not pleasant ones.

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  7. rodney dill says:

    Yet I’m still going to vote Democratic.

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

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  8. LetsGoPeople says:

    I’m already a bit tired of this new narrative striking up: Neither candidate is good enough. By those standards, neither are we. We’re the citizens who partially got ourselves into this mess. We are a spoiled electorate who wants EVERYTHING in exchange for NOTHING, it seems. Tonight was good enough for me. The left and right offering their best. Those disenchanted, I’m guessing, are not seeing what they want to see. I, personally, saw an Obama win.

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  9. Bithead says:

    RealClear Politics

    Political Animal

    Both of which use CBS and CNN in their averages, true?

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  10. rodney dill says:

    We are a spoiled electorate who wants EVERYTHING in exchange for NOTHING, [...] I, personally, saw an Obama win.

    Then Obumble is your man, ’cause he’s the one making the entirely unsubstantiated promises to do everything.

    …But honestly has anyone ever seen ‘LetsGoPeople’ post here before? There has to be some weighting to these comments, not just people that cut and paste the same Obam-ho-tep… Obam-ho-tep… Obam-ho-tep… mantra anonymously everywhere. I may wrong in this case, but I just don’t remember seeing that moniker in any threads here.

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  11. Michael says:

    So CBS generates a poll that says the leftist won the debate.
    Could that not have been predicted, even without seeing said debate?

    CBS used a demographically representative sample. Do you have a specific issue with their methodology then, or just with their conclusion?

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  12. Michael says:

    Hey Rodney, if us liberal Democrats can consistently say “McCain”, don’t you think you could rise above the use of “Obumble”?

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  13. cian says:

    McCain lost the debate not because he put in a bad performance (he was quiet effective), but because a majority of the country no longer believe him.

    And it wasn’t the economic crisis that derailed his campaign, it was his reaction to that crisis. Suspending his campaign and running off to Washington, where he did nothing, was seen for what it was- a political stunt in a time of great worry for the American people.

    My guess is a lot of people watched to see if McCain had the guts to say what he has been saying in his stump speeches to Obama’s face. But he didn’t.

    The guy shows a lot of disdain, but, for someone who once had it, not a lot of courage.

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  14. Bithead says:

    CBS used a demographically representative sample. Do you have a specific issue with their methodology then, or just with their conclusion?

    I asked this before and never really got an answer.
    When’s the last time CBS and CNN called a debate for the Republican candidate?

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  15. Billy says:

    When’s the last time CBS and CNN called a debate for the Republican candidate?

    January 30, 2008.

    Now can we please stop feeding the troll?

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  16. Michael says:

    January 30, 2008.

    Ha ha! Brilliant!

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  17. just me says:

    Honestly I don’t believe Obama won. He actually annoyed me with his tantrums.

    However I have decided that some people will see their guy as the winner no matter what and others pick the winner based on style (I agree Obama wins on style). When you listen to the actual answers though, I think I learned I definitely do not want Obama as president-mostly because I agree with very little he says.

    Healthcare is a right? In what portion of the constitution?

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  18. Michael says:

    Healthcare is a right? In what portion of the constitution?

    I would think that “Life”, being listed in the Declaration of Independence as a “natural and unalienable right” would be sufficient grounds for saying that access to healthcare necessary for the continuation and quality of life is also a right.

    Would you consider access to potable water a right? It’s not listed in the constitution.

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  19. bob in fla says:

    Stoopid question time. AFAIK, it is illegal to conduct a phone survey, poll, or sales pitch after 10 PM, local time. If this is true, then neither of these polls can accurately be called nationwide polls since the debates ended after 10:30PM, Eastern Time. Anybody able to clarify this for me?

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  20. just me says:

    The question wasn’t “is access to healthcare a right” but is “healthcare a right” and I think it is a stretch to say that it is a constitutional right and government should provide it.

    Access is something we already have by law not the constitution and I am not so sure that you can say healthcare is part of life, but then I don’t think the government is mandated to provide potable water either-it may be in a governments best interest to do so, but then my city charges me for my water, and the charge is based on how much I use.

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  21. Michael says:

    Stoopid question time. AFAIK, it is illegal to conduct a phone survey, poll, or sales pitch after 10 PM, local time. If this is true, then neither of these polls can accurately be called nationwide polls since the debates ended after 10:30PM, Eastern Time. Anybody able to clarify this for me?

    I’ve never heard that rule before, and I used to work for one of those phone survey companies. But most likely these respondents agreed ahead of time to do before and after interviews, so there wouldn’t have been any legal problems with it.

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  22. Michael says:

    The question wasn’t “is access to healthcare a right” but is “healthcare a right”

    I’m sorry, you’re going to have to explain that difference to me.

    but then I don’t think the government is mandated to provide potable water either

    The government also doesn’t prevent you from accessing potable water directly. I can get a bottle of antibiotics for $4 at Walmart, but first I have to pay over $100 for a doctor to write me a prescription for it. That is a problem.

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  23. just me says:

    So are you advocating we do away with the FDA and make all medications OTC? There is a safety valve on medications.

    You brought up potable water though no me.

    And there is a difference between saying access is a right and healthcare itself on somebody else’s dime is a right.

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  24. Michael says:

    So are you advocating we do away with the FDA and make all medications OTC?

    No to the first, kind of to the second. The FDA regulates OTC medicine too. I’d even be okay with still having to buy certain medicines from a pharmacist. I also think that requiring prescriptions for narcotics is a good thing. But generic penicillin? When I know I have a sinus infection, why can’t I just go to the pharmacy and spend $4 to get better, instead of paying $104?

    And there is a difference between saying access is a right and healthcare itself on somebody else’s dime is a right.

    Okay, we’re in agreement there. But do you really believe that we have free access to health care?

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  25. anjin-san says:

    But do you really believe that we have free access to health care?

    Well, we do. In the same sense we have free access to Porsches. Just bring money.

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  26. Michael says:

    Well, we do. In the same sense we have free access to Porsches. Just bring money.

    I don’t think a Porsche dealer will ever tell me: “I doesn’t matter how much you’re willing to pay for it, we won’t sell you a Porsche because you son has Autism”. I have, however, been told exactly that by every private health insurance provider I’ve called.

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  27. James Joyner says:

    I don’t think a Porsche dealer will ever tell me: “I doesn’t matter how much you’re willing to pay for it, we won’t sell you a Porsche because you son has Autism”. I have, however, been told exactly that by every private health insurance provider I’ve called.

    I agree that this is a problem we should solve at the public policy level. The analogy is a poor one, though. Presumably, a car insurance vendor wouldn’t insure a Porsche that was already damaged in an accident.

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  28. Michael says:

    Presumably, a car insurance vendor wouldn’t insure a Porsche that was already damaged in an accident.

    Depends on the damage. If the paint got scratched and the bumber was busted, why wouldn’t they offer PIP and theft insurance? Even if the transmission ran a little funny, why would they care?

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