Mitt’s Debate Win Helped Ohio’s Undecided Decide, For Now


Photo: White House / flikr

President Obama maintains his lead in Ohio, but Romney's debate win salvaged his Buckeye chances.


Any hope that presidential campaign commercials and visits would stop here in Ohio ended with last week’s debate. Mitt Romney won.  He saved his campaign.  There’s no need to qualify it with things like “experts say”. It’s a fact.

Just look at the polls.  Before Romeny’s strong performance combined with President Obama’s lackluster showing, the president was putting lots of daylight between him and his challenger. Obama’s 8-10 point lead has shrunk to 4-6 points.

The daylight has dimmed here in Ohio and elsewhere.

So what’s going on in Ohio? Are Obama supporters abandoning him and flocking to Romney?  The details of polls say otherwise. Based on the first post-debate polls, the president’s support remains the same.  Romney appears to have convinced the few remaining undecided votes to lean towards him.

Before the debate, a CBS/New York Times /Quinnipiac University poll showed President Obama with 51 percent support, a Dispatch poll had him with 51 percent, The Washington Post, 52%.  Post-debate, the president stands at roughly the same level -  51% in polls sponsored by NBC and CNN.

The difference is Romney’s number has grown from 42 – 43 percent to 46-47 percent.

Digging deeper,  Obama’s 20 point lead among women is unchanged.  Mitt Romney’s 12 point lead among men is unchanged.  Other categories: income, race, “appreciates the needs of the common person”, are largely the same now as they were before the debate.

So how has Romney closed the gap in Ohio?  It looks like the debate helped some undecided  decide.

Comparing the Quinnipiac pre-debate poll to the CNN post-debate poll, the undecided number went from 4 percent to just 1 percent.   The NBC poll  found 7 percent of respondents made up their minds after the debate.

For President Obama, his debate performance was a missed opportunity to close the deal in Ohio.  For Mitt Romney, the debate keeps him alive in Ohio, but he still has some work to do.

With so many voters decided, the race in Ohio will come down to turnout.  Republicans are energized and Romney’s debate win only increased that energy, increasing the chances his casual supporters will take the time to vote for him.

President Obama needs a much stronger performance in the second debate to keep his base energized to come out and vote for him.   Another weak debate will lead to more negative news coverage and more Romney momentum which could keep casual Democrats and liberal independents home, handing Ohio and quite possibly the presidency to  Mitt Romney.




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