8:50 am Oct. 1, 2012
Despite the Obama campaign's best efforts to manage expectations for the first presidential debate on Wednesday night, 55 percent of voters expect the president to win the debate, with just 31 percent predicting a victory for Romney, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released this morning.
Both sides have been trying to downplay their candidates' debating skills in the lead-up to Wednesday night's debate, but the survey suggests the playing field isn't exactly even. Obama has long carried a reputation as a gifted public speaker, while much of Romney's press coverage in recent months has focused on some high-profile flubs.
That could work in his favor on Wednesday night, if he can deliver a performance on par with President Obama's.
The hope among Romney supporters is that a commanding performance on Wednesday night might help blunt some recent momentum for the president's re-election. On Sunday, Governor Chris Christie took the unorthodox step of inflating expectations for his candidate, saying he expected a game-changing performance from Romney.
The national numbers in the WaPo/ABC poll held steady—49 percent for Obama to 47 percent for Romney—but the results showed a widening gap in swing states, where voters have begun to favor Obama by nine points, 51 percent to 42 percent.
The survey, conducted after the Republican convention, showed that 6 in 10 voters still believe Romney would favor the wealthy over the middle class. One piece of good news for Romney: a little less than half of voters now say he paid his fair share in taxes, down from nearly two-thirds who said he didn't.
The best news for the president in this morning's poll might be that he has improved his standing on the economy, with 47 percent of respondents saying they approve of his handling of the economy, a two-year high.