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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

World

Romney ahead of Obama after prez debate boost
Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times
Washington, October 10, 2012
First Published: 00:06 IST(10/10/2012)
Last Updated: 02:17 IST(10/10/2012)

The Denver debate seems to have done Mitt Romney a world of good - he is now ahead of President Barack Obama among likely voters, and is tied among registered voters.

He has even wiped clean Obama's lead among women voters. The Republican challenger had the support of 49% of likely voters if elections were hold today, to Obama's 45%, according to Pew survey findings released Monday. They were tied at 46% among registered voters.

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The debate is emerging as a watershed in Romney's campaign. It was supposed to be a do-or-die situation for him, coming at a particularly low point in the race for him.

An average of the past seven polls, according realclearpolitics.com, gives Obama a statistically insignificant 0.5 % lead. But it is notable that the latest three polls have declared it a dead heat or a Romney lead.

In the weeks before the debate, the news had generally been bad for Romney.

Whatever bump Romney had got from the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida was quickly erased by a video of him rubbishing 47% of Americans who, he claimed, didn't pay taxes.

Foreign policy, never his strength, added to his woes. He was seen trying to politicize a tragedy - he criticised Obama's handling of Benghazi as the attack unfolded.

He reset his campaign with the debate. The Obama campaign has tried to minimise the damage accusing Romney of relying on untruths to stun the president into silence.

Pew survey's interviewees of course, differ. But before delving further, be warned that experts are cautioning against polls that show massive swings such as Pew's as the 2012 race has been a stable one.

Obama, they pointed out, was leading Romney 56% to 38% among women voters in September. The two are now tied at 47%, a staggering 9% loss for the president.

Most polls have given Romney's numbers a bump post the debate, but Pew voters have been effusive - turning the campaign on its head.

Former Massachusetts governor Romney has even improved his favourability numbers, a specially dogged customers yet, to rising five points over September to 50%.

Obama's, at the same time, slipped from 55% to 49%.

Romney has for long been scoring higher than Obama on questions about which of the two would do better at fixing the economy, but likability was the president's strong point.

Romney catches up
The first debates are known to do miracles for challengers. But not enough to put them in the White House, barring a few exceptions.

However, the Pew survey findings are the most flattering Romney has encountered so far, coming across as the candidate with better ideas and so on.


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