Denver Debate Expectations: Obama expected to beat Mitt Romney in first debate, according to poll of likely voters.

Poll: Majority Expect Obama To Win Debate

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Oct. 1 2012 9:30 AM

Obama Is Losing (the Race To Lower Debate Expectations)

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President Obama speaks at a campaign event on Sunday at Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

With the first presidential debate set for Wednesday in Colorado, both camps have been busy doing their best to lower the bar for their performances.

President Obama's staff has fretted aloud that their man is too busy to properly prep for the showdown in Denver, while Mitt Romney's team is reminding voters that the GOP hopeful will be standing across the stage from a "universally-acclaimed public speaker" in Obama. (The one notable exception, of course, being Gov. Chris Christie, who went off script this weekend to predict a game-changing performance by Romney.)

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On this one topic, at least, the polling data has some good news for the Republican challenger. A new survey from the Washington Post and ABC News out today suggests that a majority of likely voters expect Obama to win Wednesday's debate, 51 percent to 33 percent.

In the short term, that's good news for Romney, who won't be burdened by high expectations that would likely make it more difficult for him to wow viewers, many of whom likely never tuned in to any of the debates that dominated much of the GOP primary season.

Obama, meanwhile, appears to have been unable to convince Americans that he's "just OK" as a debater. That said, given current polling trends, the president doesn't need a knockout win as much as to hold serve in one of the few major scheduled campaign moments left on the calendar.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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