Gallup Polling in Post-Debate Period: Romney 47%, Obama 47%

By Susan Jones | October 8, 2012 | 5:41 AM EDT

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( - A new Gallup Poll indicates that in the three days after the first presidential debate, the race between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was dead even.

In polling over the three days leading up to the Oct. 3 debate, Obama had a five-point lead among registered voters in the Gallup tracking poll. But in the three days after the debate in the same poll, 47 percent of registered voters preferred Obama and 47 percent preferred Romney.

Gallup typically reports voter presidential preferences in seven-day rolling averages. The latest 7-day average -- which ran through Saturday -- shows Obama with a three-point lead, 49-46 percent, among registered voters.
This Sept. 30-Oct. 6 survey period includes three days before the Oct. 3 debate, the night of the debate itself, and three days after the debate.

But Obama held 4- to 6-point leads in Gallup's seven-day tracking results in the eight days before the Oct. 3 debate.

"Should Mitt Romney's momentum continue in the coming days, that gap in the seven-day rolling average would narrow further," Gallup said.

A Gallup Poll conducted on Oct. 4-5 -- the first two days after the debate -- found that roughly two in three Americans said they had watched the debate. And 72 percent of them said Romney did a better job than Obama. Twenty percent said Obama did a better job.

Even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49-39 percent.

Based on its polling, Gallup concludes that the first presidential debate "went decidedly in Romney's favor" and 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."

Gallup said the drop in the September unemployment rate -- announced on Friday -- may blunt some of Romney's post-debate momentum, something that would be indicated in future polls.

The bottom line. according to Gallup: "With a month to go before Election Day, the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is still very much in doubt," raising the stakes for the next two presidential debates.