A new national poll released Monday suggests that President Barack Obama’s almost universally panned performance at the presidential debate in Denver may have done what his campaign feared: made Mitt Romney appear as a credible, even preferable, option to the incumbent president.
Although Obama held a five-point lead over Romney in the three days before the Oct. 3 debate (50 percent to 45 percent), the candidates were deadlocked at 47 percent in the three days following the event, according to the latest Gallup poll.
In the seven-day tracking poll thru Oct. 6, Obama has only a slight 49 percent to 46 percent edge over Romney among registered voters, according to Gallup.
If Romney’s post-debate momentum continues in the coming days, Gallup indicted that the seven-day rolling average will likely narrow further.
Among the roughly two in three Americans who said they watched the first debate, a super-majority -- 72 percent -- said they believed Romney was the winner. Only 20 percent of respondents said the same about Obama; in fact, even most Democrats (49 percent to 39 percent) said Romney had the stronger performance in the first debate.
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Another survey released from Public Policy Polling (PPP) on Monday indicated that Obama’s lead over his Republican opponent has shrunk to its lowest point of the election cycle in the swing state of Virginia. Obama – who was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 -- leads Romney 50 percent to 47 percent, down two points from a 51 percent to 46 percent lead three weeks earlier.
Romney also registered a 10-point gain in his favorability ratings, moving from a net-negative to a net-positive in the poll – even more evidence that the first debate of the season has already injected new life into his campaign.
Romney is scheduled to travel to Virginia on Monday, where he is expected to deliver a speech focusing on U.S. foreign policy, in an effort to put more pressure on Obama over the recent Muslim uprisings that led to death of four American in Libya last month.
Still, PPP reports the Romney campaign continues to have problems appealing to two exceedingly important demographics: women and minorities. Obama still leads Romney by 52 percent to 44 percent among those voters. Meanwhile, Romney leads in two other demographics: seniors and white men.
Further, RealClearPolitics.com's polling average in several swing states also has tightened. In the key battleground states of Florida and Virginia, Romney is about even with Obama. Meanwhile, the president has a small three-point lead in Ohio - or within the poll's margin of error.
Still, while the president's support level registered a slight dip among the electorate, the Obama campaign did receive some welcome news over the weekend. The campaign, along with the Democratic National Committee, raised a combined $181 million in September, setting a new monthly fundraising record for the 2012 presidential campaign.
The haul falls just shy of the all-time, one-month record, $193 million, set by Obama in September 2008.