DENVER — Mitt Romney has one thing going for him headed into this week’s first presidential debate with President Obama: Voters don’t expect him to do very well.
The newest Washington Times/Zogby Poll, released Sunday, found twice as many voters think Mr. Obama will win Wednesday’s kickoff affair as think Mr. Romney will win it — and among self-identified independents, it’s even more pronounced.
• Click here to view poll data (PDF file)
Most voters said they were happy with the format of the debate, which will feature Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney and exclude third-party and independent candidates. In fact that was one area on which both Republicans and Democrats generally agreed, while independents leaned slightly in favor of adding other candidates to the mix.
On the Sunday political talk shows, surrogates for both candidates tried to reset the expectations for the debate.
“President Obama is a very gifted speaker. The man has been on the national stage for many years. He’s an experienced debater. He’s done these kinds of debates before,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, Republicans’ vice presidential nominee, on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage. I think what people are going to see is, who is Mitt Romney?”
Indeed, the Times/Zogby poll found voters say they still don’t have a grasp on Mr. Romney, despite the former Massachusetts governor having spent the last six years competing for the White House, losing the 2008 Republican nomination and then triumphing this year.
The poll asked voters to rank how well they felt they knew Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama on a scale of one to five, with five being “very well.” Only 42 percent ranked Mr. Romney a four or five, while 71 percent ranked Mr. Obama a four or five.
The debates give Mr. Romney a chance to try to introduce himself to a broader audience, and analysts say the mere act of being onstage with the president serves to elevate the challenger in these affairs.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, an Obama backer, said given that, Mr. Romney should expect to see at least some movement in polls afterward.
“The challenger gets a big bump from the first debate,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If there’s no movement, if the polls two or three days after this debate, if those figures in the battleground states stay the same, it really is over.”
In the Times/Zogby poll, 49 percent of voters said they expect Mr. Obama to win the debate, while just 26 percent thought Mr. Romney would triumph. Pessimism for the Republican’s chances ran particularly high among independents, who gave Mr. Obama the nod, 46-17.
The poll of 800 likely voters, taken Thursday through Saturday, also showed voters prefer Mr. Obama by 50 percent to 41 percent over Mr. Romney.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Mr. Romney’s strongest backers throughout the campaign, said he expects the debate to fundamentally alter the race.
“What we need is a big and bold performance on Wednesday night, and that’s what he’s going to give us,” the governor told ABC’s “This Week” program. “This is the first moment where the American people are going to see these two guys side by side, laying out their visions unfiltered. That’s going to be a powerful moment for Mitt Romney.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
Ben Wolfgang is a national reporter for The Washington Times. Before coming to the Times, he spent four years as a political reporter in Pennsylvania. His focus is on education and science policy. Ben lives in southeast D.C. and has played guitar in several bands while still in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mark Mix
Home day care providers would be forced into unions
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
What does the middle-class conservative think about everything? Find out here.
Video reviews of today's hottest trends in Minecraft (servers and mods) along with a look at the latest video games with your host MCairsoft14 (alias Jerad Zad).
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Uncensored exploration of issues concerning current events, civil liberties, American political advocacy, and the political and social issues facing military veterans.
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal