Colorado voter focus group: Obama won the debate

Barack Obama speaks to supporters in Westminster, Colorado. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

Barack Obama speaks to supporters in Westminster, Colorado. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

A poll of 50 undecided Colorado voters that gauged participants’ like or dislike to Barack Obama and John McCain during the second presidential debate showed the Illinois Democrat got a bump in favorability.

The poll, conducted by the Democratic strategist group Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, indicated both candidates improved their favorability among undecided voters but Obama made larger gains. The results, provided to reporters through a conference call after the debate, showed Obama had a 26-point rise in favorability after the debate moving from 54 percent to 80 percent. McCain picked up 8 points in the same category moving from 48 percent to 56 percent.

The 50 undecided Colorado voters polled were evenly split among party affiliation and age, said Stan Greenberg, the CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, adding a majority of the respondents said they were more likely to vote for President Bush in 2004 than Democrat John Kerry.

“The bump in favorability for Obama was pretty remarkable when you look at it,” Greenberg said. “It was significant.”

Obama’s strong favorability was notable because McCain and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have directly attacked Obama’s character and associations in recent days hoping to change the tone and focus of the election away from the economy.

Other results showed a majority of people felt Obama won the debate, with 38 percent believing Obama out performed McCain compared to 30 percent who felt McCain gave the better performance. The results of the full poll will not be available until Wednesday.

John McCain speaks to supporters in Denver. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

John McCain speaks to supporters in Denver. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

The numbers correspond with recent polling completed by Rasmussen Reports that gave Obama a 6 point lead in Colorado, polling 51 percent over 45 percent for McCain. Obama has also taken a lead in national polling in recent weeks as the economy has soured over a credit crises and widespread bank failures.

The two candidates were running statistically even for a number of weeks after McCain and Palin splashed out of the Republican National Convention one month ago.

Despite Tuesday’s poll results from the debate favoring Obama, McCain did see positive swings including a bump in the number of respondents who believed he is better for health care reform and to handle Social Security. Although Obama still led in both policy categories after the debate, McCain picked up 10 points among voters. In the end, 56 percent of respondents said Obama was better for health care and securities while 18 percent believed McCain was. Before the debate, 8 percent sided with McCain.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner report was not the only polling that showed Obama beating McCain in the debate. CNN reported opinion research it conducted during the second presidential debate among undecided voters that it broadcasted Tuesday night:

Who do you believe won the debate?
54 percent – Obama
34 percent – McCain

Who seemed more intelligent?
57 percent – Obama
25 percent – McCain

Do you like the candidate?
65 percent – Obama
28 percent – McCain

CBS also reported polling from the second debate that favored Obama’s performance:

Which candidate won the debate ?
27 percent – McCain
39 percent – Obama
35 percent – Draw

Will Obama will make the right decisions on the economy?
54 percent – Before debate
68 percent – After debate

Will McCain will make the right decisions on the economy?
41 percent – Before debate
49 percent – After debate

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Jason Kosena

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