Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell seem a little surprised by the results of this focus group conducted by CBS during last night’s debate, a group that consists of eight undecided voters in Ohio — a critical swing state for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Conventional wisdom and spot polls showed Obama winning a narrow victory over Romney in last night’s debate, but that’s not how CBS’ independents saw it:
That’s 6-2 for Romney, and a couple of other interesting points. Obama tried very hard to belittle Romney in his response about the Navy, and that clearly backfired. While panelists cheered the more civil tone after two debates of constant interruptions, Obama’s testiness and scorn came across all the more strongly when it appeared. Romney succeeded in clearing what Ronald Brownstein called the “commander bar” by appearing more in control of himself and more focused on the future:
Foreign-policy debates between the presidential contenders follow a more predictable pattern than encounters over domestic policy. Inevitably, the challenger accuses the incumbent of indecision and drift and explains how he will bend the world more to his will by showing strength and leadership; the incumbent, with more gray hair than four years earlier—some of which was acquired in long, frustrating negotiations with other nations—tries to explain, without appearing defeatist, that the world isn’t always so easy to command.
Monday night’s final encounter between President Obama and Mitt Romney honored all of those conventions, albeit with fewer sparks than have marked previous such events. … or any challenger, the principal goal in a foreign-policy debate is to cross the bar as commander in chief. For most voters, Romney probably cleared that bar, but he didn’t vault over it.
Speaking of swing states, I mentioned the Rasmussen national tracking poll earlier today. What about their swing-state tracking poll? While remembering that this won’t have any reaction to last night’s debate, Romney has now moved to a five-point lead in the swing states:
The full Swing State tracking update offers Rasmussen Reader subscribers a combined view of the results from 11 key states won by President Obama in 2008 and thought to be competitive in 2012. The states collectively hold 146 Electoral College votes and include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. …
In the 11 swing states, Mitt Romney earns 50% of the vote to Obama’s 45%. Two percent (2%) like another candidate in the race, and four percent (4%) are undecided.
This is now the third time Romney has hit the 50% mark in the combined swing states in the past four days and is the biggest lead either candidate has held in nearly three weeks. This survey is conducted on a rolling seven-day basis, and as a result, virtually all of the interviews for today’s update were completed before the end of last night’s presidential debate. Romney has now held a modest lead for 12 of the last 15 days; Obama was ahead twice, and the candidates ran even once.
Romney has an eleven-point lead among independents, 48/37, in these swing states. That’s a huge problem for Obama. Romney also has a +15 among men (54/39) and only a -5 among women (44/49) for a +10 gender gap, an enormous shift from 2008. If these swing state voters in Ohio are at all representative, that’s not going to change as a result of last night’s debate.
Update: Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy thinks Obama may have done himself no favors in Virginia with his snide comment on the Navy, either:
Mr. Obama’s snarky “horses and bayonets” line also backfired. As several Marines and Army veterans tweeted during the debate, Marines still use bayonets. In fact, had the President chosen to station Marines at Benghazi, as he should have, Marines would in all likelihood have used their bayonets when the mission there was attacked. Also, the Army’s Special Forces currently use horses in the mountains of Afghanistan.
But the President’s third self delivered strike is the one that is likely to have the greatest political cost. When he belittled the notion that increasing the current size of our Navy–as Governor Romney suggested–was not worthy of consideration because this “is not a game of Battleship,” he effectively wrote off the State of Virginia, where the Navy’s Norfolk base plays such a huge role in the local economy.
That’s a very interesting point. Watch Virginia polling — and see whether Team Romney goes with ads in coastal Virginia to emphasize Obama’s derision.