Barack Obama’s debate performance wiped out a five-point lead in Gallup’s polling, and put the race into a dead heat at 47% each for Obama and Mitt Romney. By a record amount, Romney came out the winner of the debate in the same survey, emphases mine:
An Oct. 4-5 Gallup poll finds roughly two in three Americans reporting that they watched the Oct. 3 debate, similar to what Gallup measured for each of the three 2008 presidential debates. Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72% to 20%. Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49% to 39%.
These assessments are based on interviewing conducted Thursday and Friday after the Wednesday night debate, and may reflect the impact of news stories and media commentary — which mostly declared Romney as the debate winner — as well as personal reactions to the debates as they unfolded.
Gallup has assessed opinion on who did better in most past presidential debates; some of these polls were conducted the night of the debate with pre-recruited samples of debate watchers immediately after it concluded, and some were conducted with more general samples of Americans in the days that followed the debate. Across all of the various debate-reaction polls Gallup has conducted, Romney’s 52-point win is the largest Gallup has measured. The prior largest margin was 42 points for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in the 1992 town hall debate.
Just as an FYI, independents closely tracked the overall result at 70/19.
That may not be the worst of the damage, either. The meltdown on the Left over Obama’s disastrous performance continued over the weekend, and Obama surrogates got challenged on it during the Sunday talk shows. Yuval Levin at The Corner wonders why Democrats chose to magnify the disappointment and make the conclusion more concrete:
In the days since last week’s presidential debate, the Democrats have fallen into a very peculiar sort of disarray. Four days on, they are still, and apparently on purpose, sustaining the “Romney won big” story by furiously making excuses for Obama’s poor performance. He didn’t do that badly, but listening to Obama himself, his campaign, and his bewildered surrogates the last few days you would think that Obama was utterly destroyed by some kind of evil genius who was equal parts master actor, pathological liar, and bully. You should watch the debate again to see how silly this is. And it’s hard to understand why the Democrats continue to advance this story. I bet that if you polled people today about who won and lost the debate, Obama would do even worse than he did in Wednesday night’s instant polls, thanks to his and his campaign’s continuing self flagellation.
I’d chalk that up to the power of disillusionment. The fable of the emperor with no clothes doesn’t extend much beyond the wisdom of the young lad who points out the leader’s nakedness (and stupidity), but I would not be surprised if the coda to that story involved tar, feathers, and emperors and their sycophants, with some assembly required. The people who bought the media line of Obama’s brilliance and rhetorical mastery have to wonder now whether they’ve been lied to all along — and that question will generate considerable anger toward those media sycophants who have been propping up this particularly naked emperor. That may be why so many of those media sycophants have tried to get ahead of the anger by leading the charge.
Back to the main race. Obama’s 50/45 lead from polling between 9/30-10/2 has dissipated to a 47/47 from polling between 10/4-10/6. The tracking poll shows something slightly different — but …
Gallup typically reports voter presidential preferences in seven-day rolling averages; the latest such average as of Saturday interviewing shows Obama with an average three-point edge, 49% to 46%, among registered voters. This Sept. 30-Oct. 6 field period includes three days before the Oct. 3 debate, the night of the debate itself, and three days after the debate.
Even on this basis, the race has become somewhat more competitive compared with before the first debate. Obama held four- to six-point leads in Gallup’s seven-day tracking results in the eight days prior to the Oct. 3 debate.
One more thing to keep in mind, too. This polled registered voters, not likely voters. Obama has had double-digit leads in some RV polls after the convention. I suspect that the story among likely voters is quite a bit different …. and we will have some data on that later this morning.