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Rasmussen: Obama May Need a Reagan Comeback

By Scott Rasmussen

The first presidential debate of 2012 is now behind us. The reviews suggest that many were surprised at how well Mitt Romney did and how weakly President Obama performed.

The Instant Polls conducted by CBS and CNN showed Romney as the big winner. In fact, CNN found that Romney emerged with the largest advantage from any debate since they began the instant debate poll three decades ago.

This leads to two questions. The first is: How much of a difference will it make?

As I noted last week, debates rarely have a major impact on a campaign, but a small shift could be decisive in a race as close as this one. Roughly 5 percent of all voters are still uncommitted to either candidate. Another 10 percent indicate they could change their minds. That's more than enough to change the race from a slight Obama advantage to a slight Romney edge.

That's especially true when the first debate focused on the key issue of Election 2012 -- the U.S. economy. Coming into the debate, 43 percent of voters gave the president good or excellent marks for handling the economy, while 46 percent said he had done a poor job. Those aren't great numbers, but the trend has been very good to Obama. The 43 percent who say he's doing a good job is up 2 points from a week ago, 8 points from a month ago and 13 points from a year ago.

Romney's comments in the debate were designed to have people rethink that assessment and reverse the trend. He said that the status quo "is not going to cut it" and talked of the need to find a "new path." He added that "under the president's policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They're just being crushed. Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a tax in and of itself. I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing."

Obama seemed less interested in defending his track record, telling the national audience, "The question here tonight is not where we've been but where we're going."

It will take a week or so to really see what impact all of this has on the polls.

But it also leads to a second question. How will the president perform in the second debate? Incumbent presidents often struggle in the first debate and do better in the second. Ronald Reagan may be the greatest example of this.

After a very poor performance in the first debate of 1984, many wondered whether Reagan's age had caught up with him. Walter Mondale and his team thought they had a chance. But the veteran performer turned it all around at the beginning of the second debate by pledging not to make his "opponent's youth and inexperience an issue" in the campaign. Even Mondale laughed, although he had to know his chances of winning the election disappeared at that moment.

Does Obama have a comeback like that in him? We'll find out on Oct. 16.

Until then, all we can say for sure is that Romney had a good first debate and the next four weeks should be a lot more interesting on the campaign trail.

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COPYRIGHT 2012 SCOTT RASMUSSEN

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9 Comments

  1. billwvComment by billwv
    October 5, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    To answer your Question: Does Ozero have a comeback in him?
    I would have to honestly say that unless he takes on his knowledge intravenously / he is in big TROUBLE.

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  2. rosecoatsComment by rosecoats
    October 5, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    Obama’s “comeback” would spell disaster for our country. He’s the quintessential empty chair when it comes to protecting citizens (the main job of the federal government) and promoting a climate of economic growth, but when it comes to nonessentials like government-run health care, boy, he’s all over it. BLECH……

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  3. constance2Comment by constance2
    October 5, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    I can only say that Mitt Romney has a rough road ahead.

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  4. johnnyonenoteComment by johnnyonenote
    October 5, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    Obama will double down on the big lie. Witness todays jobs numbers!

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    Rating: 4.9/5 (16 votes cast)
  5. wdjincComment by wdjinc
    October 5, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

    Obama will spin like crazy, but this time the voters will not be fooled by this Marxist con artist.

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  6. yoldsComment by yolds
    October 5, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    Honestly, with the lack of answers Obama gave, and the way he actd on stage, then he continues to lie about mitts $5 Trillion tax cut the morning after, HOW can anyone trust that he ever tells the truth? Now they claim that Mitt was lying on every answer and the dumbocrats swoon all over him and agree. W T F is the matter with people these days. Has ALL common sense been lost to half of our population?

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  7. RightWingLeftyGolferComment by RightWingLeftyGolfer
    October 5, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Scott – PLEASE stop insulting President Reagan like that! To put the name Reagan in a story including the name O(blitheringidiot) insults the computer you were typing on. You could have just said something like “Obama was an embarrassment to Jimmy Carter and may need a miracle” – along with some Preparation H.

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  8. mickabersdadComment by mickabersdad
    October 6, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    Obama is a coward when Romney is in the room. His body language proved that he is clearly intimidated by the facts that come out of Romney’s mouth. The next day, he sounded like that punk kid we all went to school with rambling on about what he would have done if the individual that he started a fight with wouldn’t have walked away. I almost feel sorry for Obama because he has to live with himself everyday, and probably feeds himself lies to keep his insecurities at bay.

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  9. JDZComment by JDZ
    October 6, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

    The next debate will be in a townhall format which is presumed to give President Obama an advantage over Romney. If Obama is going to go after Romney this would be the format which could give him the most latitude for doing that, and I am expecting them to bring it on with whatever they have been holding back. The 47% comment, the Bain Capital commentary, the rich person perspective, the gaffes on the trip that Romney took during the Olympics, are some of the popular ones, but who knows what other “hidden” tapes that will be rolled out before the debate to put them in play.

    The point is that Mitt will have to be ready for a different Obama in the second debate who will not be as “laid back” as he was in the first one. I actually think that Romney has the facts on his side and that gives him an advantage over whatever Obama rolls out and will do just fine.

    I also think that Paul Ryan is going to take down Joe Biden in their debate because Ryan is one of the most knowledgeable members of Congress and alo a fact based debater. It should be interesting to watch.

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