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In debate Romney hits on strengths with voters

People at the Lavanderia coin laundry watch as U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney debate on October 3, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is in the history books. The morning after, voters and commentators are giving the edge to republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Romney drew on his strengths with voters -- the economy, the deficit, the affordable care act, and the role of the federal government. Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport says, "Romney was able to hit each of those strengths -- pre-existing attitudinal strengths -- in his answers, and that's always good news for somebody if you can expand on what people already view as your strengths."

There were a few areas that Obama was able to talk to his popular positions with voters, such as alternative energy, Medicare, and the middle class. "Based on our data, Obama has a ten point edge on being better for middle income Americans, and that issue came up a lot," says Newport, "but whether or not that countered Romney, we'll wait and see."

On whether the presidential debates this season will truly make a difference for the elections, Newport says history suggests "they have the potential to change the trajectory...but I think we'll have to wait and see as it percolates through the minds of Americans and in our polling data."

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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