Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Mitt Romney Sustain the Momentum He Gained from the Debate?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Mitt Romney Sustain the Momentum He Gained from the Debate?

Article excerpt

The polls keep coming, and the news is consistent: Thursday night was a good night for Mitt Romney.

However, it's unclear how permanent that bounce is and whether the race has truly been reshaped.

Perhaps the best news for Mr. Romney came with Monday's Gallup tracking-poll release. While the poll still shows President Obama having an edge of three percentage points among registered voters, the result is dramatically different when Gallup isolates the pre- and post-debate interviews. (The tracking poll gives seven-day rolling averages.)

In the interviews conducted before the debate, Mr. Obama had a five-point lead over Romney. In the three days of interviews conducted after the debate, the two candidates were tied, each with 47 percent of registered voters.

"The first presidential debate went decidedly in Romney's favor," Gallup wrote in its poll analysis. "The debate appears to have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the debate compared with the three days prior."

Then the analysis notes, "Still, the impact was not so strong that it changed the race to the point where Romney emerged as the leader among registered voters. Rather, at least in the first three days of Gallup tracking after the debate, the race is tied."

With last week's debate, Gallup registered the most decisive debate win ever, with those who watched the debate overwhelmingly judging Romney the winner, 72 percent to 20 percent. Prior to this 52-point win, the largest margin that Gallup had ever measured in gauging viewers' debate reaction was a 42-point win for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in a 1992 town-hall debate.

A Politico/George Washington University battleground tracking poll of likely voters that was released Monday also indicates potential problems for Obama particularly with voters' enthusiasm levels.

The poll shows Obama with a one-point lead over Romney (a statistical tie) one point closer than a week ago. But more of those who back Romney say they are "extremely likely" to vote (86 percent) compared with those who support Obama (73 percent). …

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