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Democratic pollster Geoff Garin conducted a dial group poll among weak Democrats and independents, for Priorities USA. The results may be surprising considering the media buzz that is going on about the debate today.

In our Aurora, Colorado dial group session with the kinds of up-for-grabs voters whom Mitt Romney must win to overcome his deficits in swing states, President Obama reinforced his advantages on key qualities, and wavering Obama supporters (who were willing to give Romney a second look) largely were unimpressed by what Governor Romney had to say.
Six in 10 respondents gave President Obama favorable ratings for his overall performance in the debate, compared with just one in seven who did so for Romney.

President Obama still wins on likeability. Seems voters are perhaps not so impressed with someone who is a bully and can steamroll a 78 year old moderator into monopolizing the debate.

The starkest difference between the two candidates was in their likeability.  Eight in 10 respondents gave President Obama high marks for coming across as likeable and down to earth, while very few felt that way about Governor Romney.  The President came out with a distinct advantage over Romney on the important trait, “caring about people,” and respondents were much more likely to give Obama credit for being honest and truthful in discussing the issues.
President Obama won on the economy.
Compared with the beginning of the session, there was a doubling in the number of respondents who said that Obama has good ideas for improving the economy.  While Romney also improved on this dimension, 63% of respondents said at the end that Obama expressed good ideas for improving the economy, compared with 27% who said the same about Romney in the debate.
Romney did himself no favors by saying he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with Obamacare.
The discussion of health care also played distinctly to Obama’s advantage.  Many respondents came into the room equivocal about which candidate would be better on health care, but those voters split significantly in Obama’s favor after hearing both candidates on the issues.  Romney lost ground when he talked about repealing ObamaCare.
Romney did gain an advantage on taxes, negating President Obama's on that issue.  Not surprising given his repetition ad nauseum, of his lie that his campaign did not pledge to lower taxes by 20% thus resulting in a 5 trillion dollar hit to the deficit. Since Romney's plan is on his website and in his interview with Mark Halperin on video, this should be easy enough to dispute in followup ads.

And talk about exceeding low expectations:

Respondents who came into the room open to Romney as an alternative to Obama felt disappointed in Romney’s lack of specifics.  But Romney did benefit from low expectations among this group, and several said that Romney did not seem as bad as they thought he might be.  For these key swing voters, whom Obama must hold and Romney must win, the first debate did not change much, but it also did not settle much.  Obama continues to have the advantage with them, but the deal still is not sealed.
I would call this good news. And not for John McCain.

11:24 AM PT: Yesterday's NPR headlines (which I can no longer find a link to) said pre-debate polling found voters were sick of the negative campaign and wanted to see a candidate who demonstrated how he could work with the other side to get things done.  I don't think the image of a bombastic, boorish, bully inspired confidence in any way that Romney would be able to work with legislators in a bipartisan way.  Maybe, just maybe, the Obama campaign knew who they had to appeal to.

12:18 PM PT: Mother Jones is reporting on their exchange with an Obama campaign official as to why the President didn't bring up anything about the 47% remarks made by Romney. It seems they had a specific strategy targeting the undecided voter.

Not that we won't talk about it again. We will. But [what's] most compelling [is] hearing it from Romney himself. We've got that on the air at a heavy dollar amount in key states. And it's sunk in. Ultimately the president's goal last night was to speak past the pundits and directly to the undecided voter tuning in for the first time about the economic choice and his plans to restore economic security.
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