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October 15, 2012

Poll: Independent voters increasingly give Romney the edge on debates

Will President Obama successfully erase a poor showing at his first debate? Can Mitt Romney sustain his performance? A new poll shows voters are divided. Forty one expect Obama to do a better job; 37 percent expect Romney to prevail.

The Pew Resarch Center for the People & the Press notes the numbers are in "stark contrast" to expectations before the first presidential debate two weeks ago, in which voters expected Obama to win by a 51 percent to 29 percent margin.

The national survey, conducted Oct. 12-14 among 1,006 adults, finds debate expectations for Romney have improved sharply among independents: two weeks ago, more independents thought Obama would win the first debate by a 44 percent to 28 percent margin. Today, more independents expect Romney to win the second debate, by a 42 percent to 31 percent margin. Expectations for Romney are also up among Republicans (from 64 percent expecting him to do better than Obama in the first debate to 75 percent now).

The survey also finds that, despite controversy over massive spending by outside groups in the 2012 race, relatively few voters think either candidate has been too personally critical of his opponent. Just 37% say that Romney has been too personally critical of Obama, while about as many (35%) say Obama has been too personally critical of Romney. In June, more thought Romney was being too critical of Obama (43%) than thought Obama was being too critical of Romney (30%).

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