CNN's Candy Crowley conducts the second presidential debate with President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Hempstead, New York on October 16, 2012.
CNN's Candy Crowley conducts the second presidential debate with President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Hempstead, New York on October 16, 2012. - 

Last night's presidential debate on Long Island, NY, was a fiery affair that traversed a range of pocketbook issues posed by real people. The debate audience, made up of undecided voters from the area selected by the Gallup organization, quizzed the cadidates on everything from gas prices to tax deductions to gender equality in the workplace.

Frank Newport, editor-in-cheif of Gallup, says he thinks the questions reflected the primary concern of undecided voters: "The economy is the big issue and that certainly came up," says Newport.

If it feels like this year's debates are more significant, it might be because they are. Though Newport says we will have to wait for more polling data, so far the numbers suggest this season's debates are playing a larger role in shaping voter sentiment. Newport says historically it is difficult to argue the debates impact the outcome of the election, but after the first face-off, "Romney clearly gained, particularly in the short term."

 

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