Fox, CNN, CBS Reaction Groups: Obama Won
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The insta-polls, which provide viewers with a somewhat skewed but important insight into how each candidate fared say, by and large, that Obama scored a victory in the second debate.
NBC's focus group of undecided Pennsylvania voters had the Illinois Democrat winning by roughly a 60-40 split. Frank Luntz's focus group, over at Fox, showed undecided voters leaning towards Obama because of his position on health care. CBS's focus group of independents had the Democratic nominee winning the debate at 39 percent to McCain's 27 percent, with 35 percent of the respondents saying it was a tie. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm, had a focus group of undecideds leaning to Obama by a margin of 42 percent to 24 percent.
Meanwhile, SurveyUSA interviewed 741 debate watchers in the state of Washington, 54 percent of whom thought Obama was the "clear winner" compared with McCain's 29 percent. That same polling firm had the first debate as a tie. In tonight's survey: 42 percent of respondents said McCain was too forceful.
And the CNN focus group of undecided voters in Ohio had the margin at an even wider spread: Obama 54 percent to McCain's 30.
A look at some of the specific issues that these Ohio voters valued suggest that they prefer the candidate who, at least on the surface, appears less on the attack. When Obama discussed health care as a right for all Americans, his numbers were through the roof. At one point, female respondents were dialing in at 100 percent approval. When he talked about using diplomacy in Darfur and pursuing Bin Laden in Pakistan, he again enjoyed strongly enthusiastic responses.
Sam Stein is a Political Reporter at the Huffington Post, based in Washington, D.C.