May 24, 2013
Obama takes final debate, poll
President Obama scored a clear two-to-one victory against Mitt Romney during the final presidential debate, according to a CBS News instant poll of uncommitted voters.
Immediately after it wrapped, 53 percent of the more than 500 voters polled gave the foreign policy-themed debate to Mr. Obama; 23 percent said Romney won, and 24 percent felt the debate was a tie. Uncommitted voters in similar polls gave the first debate to Romney by a large margin, but said Mr. Obama edged the GOP nominee in the second debate.
Both candidates enjoyed a bump regarding whom the voters trust to handle international crisis. Before the debate, 46 percent said they would trust Romney, and 58 percent said they would trust the president. Those numbers spiked to 49 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
Overwhelmingly, the same group of voters said President Obama would do a better job than Romney on terrorism and national security, 64 percent to 36 percent. But they were evenly split, 50-50, on which candidate would better handle China.
The "uncommitted voters" polled are voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who say they could still change their minds.
It was billed as a debate on foreign policy, but that did not stop Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, from sparring repeatedly on issues that polls indicate are more important to voters: the economy and jobs.
After two contentious debates that helped to reshape the battle for the White House, the final encounter between Obama and Romney featured few actual differences on foreign policy.
Instead, the candidates detoured from the debate's agenda to reprise their frequent clashes over government budgets, school class sizes, the federal bailout of the auto industry and tax incentives for small business.
There was no aggressive Romney offensive, like the one in the October 3 debate that help boost the Republican in the polls.
But Obama, who recovered from the first debate to turn in a well-reviewed performance in his second debate against Romney last week, stayed aggressive.
Obama accused the former Massachusetts governor of proposing wrong and reckless policies "at home and abroad" and reminded voters that Romney had praised former Republican President George W. Bush as a good economic steward.
Romney played it cautious in foreign policy areas where he has little experience but took every opportunity to turn the debate back to the economy and his criticism of Obama's economic leadership.
In the end, analysts said, it was a showdown that is unlikely to alter the course of the race to the November 6 election, as Romney did in the first debate.
"It was the kind of debate that is going to make both sides feel good," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas.
"Obama has the edge on foreign policy, but that's not the issue that is pushing voters," he said. "And Romney made his points and was particularly effective at tying the economy into the debate about the strength of the country."