Wonkbook’s number of the day: 67. That’s the percentage of 430 voters who said in a CNN snap poll that Mitt Romney won the first debate against President Obama. Twenty-five percent of these voters said Obama won the debate.
In the same poll, 61 percent said Obama had a worse performance in the debate than they expected; 82 percent said Mitt Romney overperformed their expectations. 18 percent of voters said they were more likely to vote for Obama as a result of the debate, 35 percent said they were more likely to cast a ballot for Romney, and 47 percent said it would have no effect on their vote.
Soltas notes that Romney also won the spin war, since the commentariat is close to unanimous that Romney won the night. Soltas also credits Romney with a dominating offense, forcing Obama to be defensive, failing to attack Romney for his 47 percent comment or Bain Capital [nor his offshore personal banking and failure to be open about his taxes]. Soltas quotes Ezra Klein crediting Romney with “crisp, clear answers and an easy demeanor.”
As Josh Barro, quoted by Soltas, puts it at Bloomberg, “The debates usually don’t do a lot to change how people vote. When they do matter, as with Gerald Ford in 1976, it’s usually because of a major blunder, not a broadly weak performance.” And many will remember that George Bush II’s abysmal performance in his first debate (“It’s hard, it’s hard…”) with a highly energetic, focused and well-prepared John Kerry in 2004 did not prevent Bush from winning re-election.