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Pundits, Instant Polls Give the First Debate to Romney, by a Wide Margin | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Pundits, Instant Polls Give the First Debate to Romney, by a Wide Margin

Almost universal claims by talking heads on the cable channels that Obama lost (even MSNBC hitting him and see Charles P. Pierce here)—but, as I’ve said from beginning, the instant polls usually refute pundits’ claims in these cases.

But not this time.

A CNN/ORC scientific poll of 430 registered voters—who watched the debate—just out and with staggering edge I have not seen before: 67 percent for Romney and 25 percent for Obama. CNN says a number of voters in poll said they’re now more likely to vote for Romney—35 percent, with 18 percent saying they’d go for Obama, with 47 percent no change.

More: “Who Seemed to Be Stronger Leader? Romney 58%–Obama 37%.” Who better to handle economy and taxes and healthcare? Romney, by smaller margins.

Writers  like Steve Kornacki of Salon who claim Obama was "lousy" in the 2008 debates and still won are dead wrong. Obama was not terrific but was generally effective in 2008 vs. McCain--and the same polls now giving this year's first debate to Romney gave Obama solid wins in all three debates that year.   Go here for updates all day Wednesday. 

Update #1: Now CBS poll of 500 undecided voters finds Romney with 2-1 edge on winning debate, 46 percent to 22 percent. Opinion of Romney, naturally, rose among many. Not sure of land line/cell breakdown.  

CNBC poll (not sure of source) had it 51 percent–38 percent for Romney. So, in rare case, TV pundits may have it (mainly) right. Even gender gap did not save Obama, at least tonight.

Update #2  But hold the phone (literally)!  John King on CNN admitted this sample a few points more Republican than average so Romney’s edge higher than reality probably. David Gergen also called sample “skewed.”  Now I see online that five of six polled by CNN were reached by land lines, which would find larger GOP numbers in that poll.  Still, that would have boosted Romney margin only somewhat. 

CNN has now clarified its sample in its instant poll after its own John King noted on the air that it held more GOPers than average. The sample of debate-watchers in the poll was 37 percent Democratic and 33 percent Republican. CNN spokesman: “That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is about four points more Democratic and about eight points more Republican than an average CNN poll of all Americans, for a small advantage for the Republicans in the sample of debate-watchers.”

But here’s a very interesting number that may get little play: the same poll that found easy Romney win also found that Obama’s favorable rating in this group remained exactly the same at 49 percent. So perhaps few votes will be changed.

Update #3  Nate Silver  of The New York Times reviews the polls and finds one I'd missed:  a Google experiment that found Obama holding his own during the debate but losing 2-1 after (one wonders if TV pundits giving it to Romney swayed some).  

Straining to find some good results for Obama, Priorities USA points to a focus group it sponsored  in Aurora, Colo.  But its group were all "weak Democrats" and indies, not Repubs. 

Point needs to be made, however: Saying Romney won does not mean that you’re saying you’d vote for him. Otherwise, half of MSNBC liberals would be switching to his side. Still, you have longtime prime Obama defender Andrew Sullivan declaring that not only did Romney win but Obama “choked”—and may have lost the election. Well, we’ll see what Gallup and others show in about four days.

And let it be said: Jim Lehrer, as I predicted (going on past performance) was awful—as invisible as Obama in Clint Eastwood’s chair. Rachel Maddow declared that this debate format needs to be “retired…dismantled.”

See my Twitter feed @GregMitch for blow by blow.  For Wednesday updates, go here. 

Greg Mitchell has written more than a dozen books, including three on key American campaigns:  Upton Sinclair's race for governor of California in 1934, the Nixon-Douglas race in 1950, and Obama 2008. Go here for more. 

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