The third and final presidential debate was won by President Barack Obama, according to polls conducted immediately after the debate had finished.
A CNN/ORC International poll revealed 48 percent of viewers favored Obama compared to 40 percent for GOP challenger Mitt Romney, while a second poll by CBS scored it as a comfortable victory for Obama.
Yet it wasn’t all bad news for Romney. Just two weeks before the November 6 vote, the CNN/ORC poll showed viewers believed Romney demonstrated credibility as a potential leader, something that Republican strategist Ari Fleischer emphasized was important.
As well as viewers, analysts gave the debate to Obama, arguing that the standing president had forced his challenger to adopt a defensive position on foreign policy, the subject of Monday night’s debate. While carefully explaining and defending US foreign policy under his own watch, Obama repeatedly attacked the views and proposals of Romney, targeting his opponent’s comparative lack of experience on the international stage.
CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen scored Obama as the clear winner on the night, saying the president had “dominated the middle of the debate” and adding, “There’s no question debate coaches would score this one for the president.” However, Gergen also praised Romney for avoiding sounding zealous where military action is concerned; the Obama campaign has often tried to portray Romney as an advocate of brute military force.
Those from Romney’s side tended to agree that Obama was the victor on Monday, with Republican strategist Alex Castellanos conceding:
“[Obama] won tonight on points, no doubt about it.”
Yet Castellanos argued that Romney had shown a calm leadership style that might suggest to viewers a change in leadership now would be safe; the polls seemed to reflect this view.
Did you catch the third presidential debate, and would you agree with the exit polls that Obama emerged triumphant?