First of all I want to say that I was impressed with the second debate. I think both candidates did well in it, and they both we assertive without the rudeness elements that Biden brought to the table days before. The CNN/ORC scientific poll taken of registered voters who watched the debate said that 46% thought that Obama won, versus 39% percent who thought Romney won. However, the margin of error is 4.5% which means that the numbers falls fairly closely within the range of a tie.
Of course, much to my amusement, there are plenty of people who are declaring victory with this supposedly ‘clear Obama win!’ and even some others who think it was such a milestone win that Obama has won the election! Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but last I heard on planet Earth ratings that fall so tight they are within (or practically) the margin of error for the poll are considered a ‘tie’ or a ‘draw’ or a ‘deadheat’ (pick your word).
Now then, lets look deeper and deeper into this second debate scientific poll data because the first thing we want to understand is who was polled. In the first presidential debate, the mix was: Democrats (37%), Republicans (33%), and Independents (29%) and in this debate the mix was Democrats (33%), Republicans (33%), and Independents (33%), which is to say that the mix is basically the same but a more even divide of democrats and independents.
Ok so let’s look at what is commonly thought to be the KEY issue in the entire election: the economy.
When asked, after the second debate, which candidate would better handle the economy the results were: 58% Romney versus 40% Obama.
Now lets stop right there. IF this is truly the single most important voting issue for most Americans today, then the statistic should tell the tale of who will win right there. It is important to recognize that while partisan politics come in to play in these polls, that there were only 33% of Republicans who were polled. So lets say -every- Republican said Romney, and to be fair lets say -every- Democrat said Obama. That still means that of the remaining 33% of independent voters, only 7% went Obama, while all the rest went Romney on the economy. An 18% margin on the key question in this election is nothing to ignore.
But it’s only fair to say that it could have been a fluke right? Let’s then take a look at the numbers from the first debate. On the same questions, 55% thought Romney would do better on the economy, while only 43% thought Obama would. Hold the phone folks – yes that DOES mean that in the first terrible debate for the president in which he barely seemed in the room, he actually had 3% MORE people support him on the economy than he did after the second debate in which he was more animated! That 3% instead shows up on the increase on Romney for that question of 55% to 58% between debates 1 and 2.
Moving on, lets say you think maybe there is more to this voting than just the economy. Let’s talk about balancing the budget instead because this debt to China bothers a lot of people in our country.
The results for the question of who would do a better job with the deficit was a clear win for Romney with another big margin: 59% Romney, 36% Obama. That’s a 23% margin on this issue which means that if we assume the same thing as before (that all Dems say Obama and all Reps say Romney) that only 3% of Independents went with Obama on this issue, while all the rest went with Romney. Just for comparison, the President also lost ground between debates 1 and 2 on this issue, going from 41% to 36% and Romney went from 57% up to 59%.
Ok so lets say you consider the economy, and you worry about the deficit, but you also are concerned about some other stuff. Let’s go through a few more numbers briefly.
Another major issue on peoples minds: Health Care. Whether it’s talk about a national health care program, medicaid, or medicare, someone somewhere is talking about concerns in keeping these programs afloat or making them financially viable in the future. So who can do a better job on that? The poll says 49% Romney to 46% Obama. That is a much tighter number, but basically tells people that issue is up for grabs because they’re both scoring nearly the same on it.
There has also been a lot of talk about taxes and the tax code lately. Both candidates have said they want to reform the tax code, and both propose changes in the amount of taxes paid by people. 51% Romney and 44% Obama on this one, so fairly close again which makes it an up-for-grabs non-swing issue.
Protestors in 33 countries, Fast and Furious, the first death of an ambassador overseas in over 30 years, an investigation of a potential coverup, Syrian conflict, Iran red line, Israel relations, etc.. Foreign policy is definitely a spot for some people who like to keep up with the world abroad or who are worried about our military people or another attack on our soil. This is where we get to the SINGLE voting issue where Obama has a lead over Romney in the poll results: 49% Obama to 47% Romney. That is obviously a pretty narrow lead, too close to really consider it much of one, and with the final debate coming up being solely on the topic of Foreign Policy, I think this number has room to change. Besides, when the guy who has 4 years of FP experience scores in the same ballpark as the guy without any, I think that says something as well.
One final statistic to really consider is how ‘Presidential’ someone is. It seems like a superfluous element, but demeanor and bearing are relevant. The polling respondents were asked who they thought seemed to be a stronger leader, and the lead was to Romney again with 49% to 46% Obama. Of course, the sitting President really never should want to be considered weaker than his challenger.
Did Romney score higher on everything but the final tally? No, but nearly all of them. In the end, 25% said they were more likely to vote Obama afterward, 25% said more likely Romney, and the rest were unchanged by the debate. We’ll have to wait to see whether it turns out that the independents were unchanged or if the people already in the camp were unchanged.