Bye, bye Romney debate bounce? Updates: mixed picture

As I noted before and after the first presidential debate of 2012, debates rarely have a big impact on the candidates’ standing.

Mitt Romney had a good debate performance and Obama had a poor one, with the differences were likely amplified by our intensive news and social media environment.

In the first few days after the debate, Romney had a bounce.

But, perhaps in part because of the new unemployment numbers, the bounce Romney received appears to be short-lived.

Here’s some evidence:

  • Yesterday’s Rasmussen poll showed a lead for Romney of 2. Today Romney and Obama are tied. This is a net toward Obama of +2.
  • Rasmussen also saw a shift in Obama’s job approval, moving from 50% to 51% approval.
  • Yesterday’s Gallup poll showed a lead for Obama of 3. Today Obama is ahead by 5. This is a net toward Obama at +2.
  • And Gallup also saw Obama’s job approval increase, from 48% to 51%.

Further shifts are certainly possible, but it appears that the debate bounce has receded pretty quickly.

Update: A Pew poll released today gives a different picture, with the candidates tied among registered voters and Romney up by 4 among likely voters. This presents a very different picture, particularly since Pew is a well-respected pollster.

In the last few weeks, some claimed that previous, pro-Obama polls were wrong because they oversampled Democrats. Now this Pew poll had much larger numbers of Republicans than they found in their last poll.  All this shows that party identification varies over time.

Moreover, as a 2004 study showed, when partisans feel especially enthusiastic, they are more likely to say they’ll vote, thus showing up more in the group designated as likely voters. Right now there’s more Republican enthusiasm.

So what’s going on with the debate bounce? Stay tuned.

Update 2: Another poll suggests shifts within the post-debate period. As the Washington Post reports on how favorably the candidates were seen:

Romney did better in the poll in the two days immediately after the debate, with the president making up ground in the third and fourth days.

Among Republicans, 69 percent expressed intensely positive views of their standard-bearer on Thursday and Friday, slipping to 54 percent on Saturday and Sunday. For Obama, the pattern was reversed, with 55 percent of Democrats holding strongly favorable view in the debate’s immediate aftermath, rising to 77 percent in the later interviewing.


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.