RESEARCH MEMO: Results Of Dial Group Session In Aurora, CO.
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Priorities USA Action
FROM: Geoff Garin, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
DATE: Debate Night, October 3, 2012
RE: Results Of Dial Group Session In Aurora, CO.
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.
The large majority of panelists in the Aurora session were weak Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but who remain open to switching in the upcoming election.
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.
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.
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.
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 ground on the President on the issue of taxes, and he largely negated the advantage Obama had on the issue when respondents first walked into the room.
In the moment-to-moment dialing, President Obama’s high points were when he talked about outsourcing and tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas, the need for a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit, and clean energy.
Romney’s high points were fewer, but he scored best whenever he spoke about making jobs the number-one priority.
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.