President Obama wins third debate, polls say

10:25 AM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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David Jackson, USA TODAY

President Obama won Monday's foreign policy debate in a pair of instant polls, in one of them decisively.

In a survey by CBS News, 53% awarded the debate to Obama, to 23% for Republican Mitt Romney and 24% undecided.

An instant CNN poll found a closer contest as 48% favored Obama and 40% went with Romney. The remainder were undecided.

Both campaigns will look to other polls to see whether the debate moves actual votes. Election Day is two weeks away.

The CBS survey did include some good news for Romney, in that "both candidates enjoyed a bump regarding whom the voters trust to handle international crisis."

According to CBS:

"Before the debate, 46% said they would trust Romney, and 58% said they would trust the president. Those numbers spiked to 49% and 71%, respectively.

"Overwhelmingly, the same group of voters said President Obama would do a better job than Romney on terrorism and national security, 64% to 36%. But they were evenly split, 50-50, on which candidate would better handle China."

The CNN poll cited Obama's intense criticism of Romney throughout the debate:

"Obama's aggressive strategy led the debate audience to give him a narrow 51%-46% edge on leadership, but it may have come at the cost of likeability.

"'A majority of debate watchers said that President Obama seemed to be the stronger leader,' says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. 'But on the question of likeability, the two candidates are essentially tied on a trait that has generally been an advantage for Obama. That's probably due to the fact that two-thirds of debate watchers felt that Obama spent more time than Mitt Romney on the attack.'

"But according to the poll, both candidates were seen by debate watchers as able to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief -- an important threshold for Romney since he is not the incumbent. But men and women see the commander in chief question very differently.

"Majorities of both genders saw Obama as capable of handling that role, but women were split roughly 50/50 on whether Romney had proven himself on that measure, while men responded well to Romney's performance. Women also saw Obama as the stronger leader; men saw Romney as having the edge on leadership. As a result, women saw Obama as the winner of the debate by 22 points, while a plurality of men saw Romney as the victor on Monday night." 

USA TODAY

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