The results of a national Gallup poll made public Monday reveal that registered voters currently are split dead even between GOP candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
The poll examined voters' preferences in the first three days after Wednesday's presidential debate, and found that Obama's five-percentage point lead before the debate has been entirely eroded. As many critics agreed, the debate, which was largely focused on the economy, was won by Romney, leaving the Obama campaign to admit that they might need to make some changes as the presidential race heads into the final few weeks.
Gallup focused its survey on the debate, first gathering registered voters' opinion on the days leading up to the economy discussion. Between Sep. 30 and Oct. 2, 50 percent of voters said they preferred Obama, compared to 45 percent who picked Romney. After the debate, however, looking at Oct. 4-6, the numbers showed a 47 percent dead even preference for each candidate.
The poll also took a look at what people thought about the debate itself. Much like the 2008 presidential debates between Obama and then-GOP candidate John McCain, the Oct. 3 debate was watched by two out of three Americans. Aligning with critical opinions, most registered voters thought that Romney did better than Obama. Among all debate watchers, 72 percent favored the former Massachusetts governor, a sentiment shared by Independents at 70 percent, and even most Democrats, with 49 percent of left-leaning voters admitting that Romney held the edge in the debate, with 39 percent opting for Obama, and 12 percent unable to decide between the two.
"The first presidential debate went decidedly in Romney's favor," according to Gallup's own analysis. "The debate appears to have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the debate compared with the three days prior. Still, the impact was not so strong that it changed the race to the point where Romney emerged as the leader among registered voters. Rather, at least in the first three days of Gallup tracking after the debate, the race is tied."
The Gallup poll is consistent with various other polls conducted following the presidential debate, where most sources reported people picking Romney as the night's clear winner. While tracking polls, like a Reuters/Ipsos survey, reported that Obama still held a small edge over Romney, with 47 percent of respondents saying they would still vote for the president, compared to 45 support for the GOP candidate, a noticeable trend was that Obama's lead had shrunk after the debate.
As the Gallup poll notes, Obama received a slight boost on Friday with the posting of the monthly unemployment report, which revealed that the rate fell to 7.8 percent, the lowest it has been since January 2009.
The next presidential debates, scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, are likely to also play an important role in deciding who undecided voters are going to back for president.
The Oct. 4-6 Gallup poll surveyed 1,387 registered voters across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reporting with 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of error is ±3 percentage points.