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By 13 percentage points — 21 points among independents — Americans say Obama won the second debate

The story is HERE:

Americans who report watching the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney believe Obama did a better job, by 51% to 38%. That is a sharp reversal from the first debate for which Romney was widely regarded as the winner…

Three-fourths of Americans (76%) in an Oct. 17-18 Gallup poll say they watched the debate, higher than the 66% who told Gallup in an Oct. 4-5 poll that they watched the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.

The two-day field period after the night of the debate means Americans’ judgments about who won not only reflect their personal reaction but may also be influenced by news coverage and media commentary in the days following the debate. However, most of the instant reaction polls conducted in the first few hours after the second debate also found debate watchers naming Obama the winner…

It is too early to tell what impact the second debate will have on voters. Its impact may also be difficult to assess given that the third debate is taking place just six days after the second.

Historically, debates typically do not change voting preferences to a great degree. Even after Romney’s strong performance in the first debate, his standing in Gallup Daily election tracking improved only slightly in the first several days of interviewing following the debate.

Nevertheless, Monday’s final presidential debate is the last major scheduled event in the 2012 election campaign, so the status of the race after it takes place will give a strong indication of what the outcome of the election might be.

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