Poll: Romney's Debate Win Was Biggest Ever

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 8 2012 11:25 AM

Was Romney's Debate Win the Most Convincing in History? It Looks That Way.

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Mitt Romney speaks as his wife, Ann, looks on during a campaign stop on Sunday in Florida

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Gallup's latest survey shows just how overwhelmingly the American public thought Mitt Romney bested President Obama onstage in Denver last Wednesday: 72 percent of debate watchers gave the win to the GOP challenger with only 20 percent seeing the president as the winner.

That 52-point gap was the largest the polling outfit has ever seen, topping even Bill Clinton's 42-point margin over George H. W. Bush in 1992.

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Romney nearly earned a clean sweep among self-identified Republicans, 97 percent to 2 percent, and likewise posted a strong showing among independents, 70 percent to 19. Things were relatively tighter among Democrats, but the GOP hopeful still managed a 10-point win with the president's own party, 49 percent to 39 percent.

The wording of the question: "Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in last/Wednesday night's debate?" The survey was taken over a two-day stretch ending last Friday.

On the back of his strong debate performance, Romney also managed to close the gap with the president with the November election only weeks away. Before the debate, the Republican trailed the incumbent by 4 points in Gallup's seven-day rolling average, but by Saturday that gap had shrunk to 3 points. If you break the data down further and compare the three days before the debate to the three days following it, a 5-point Obama lead disappeared to leave the two men tied at 47 percent apiece. [Update 1:18 p.m.: Gallup has since updated its seven-day rolling average to include Sunday, and Obama's lead is back to 5 points.]

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

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