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New University of Denver poll: Obama holds narrow lead in Colorado; voters overwhelmingly say Romney won first debate

Strong Debate Performance Improves Voters' Impressions of GOP Nominee

DENVER, Oct. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The University of Denver, host of the first Presidential debate on Oct. 3, today released poll results that found President Barack Obama leading Governor Mitt Romney among likely voters in Colorado, 47-43. Four percent said that they would vote for someone else, and five percent noted that they remain undecided. The poll also found that President Obama is currently leading among independent voters, 48-31.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120817/DC59315LOGO)

Despite President Obama's current lead in Colorado, respondents have improving impressions of Gov. Romney. Those who said that they watched or heard about the debate believe that Gov. Romney won by a huge margin, 68-19. That includes almost half of Obama supporters (47 percent), with just 37 percent of the President's supporters saying he did the better job. In addition, 38 percent of likely Colorado voters said their impression of Gov. Romney is improving, while 18 percent of respondents felt the same way about President Obama.

"Two important lessons from the polls are, first, there are very few undecided voters left in Colorado, and second, Gov. Romney has improved his position to win them over in the closing days of the race," said University of Denver political scientist Dr. Peter Hanson. "President Obama is maintaining a narrow lead in the state, but the major question is how much movement we can expect in the polls in coming weeks with not many voters left for the candidates to persuade."

A huge majority of Colorado's likely voters paid close attention the debate. Eighty-one percent said they watched the debate and another 14 percent said they had heard about it.  When asked an open-ended question about where the debate took place, 74 percent correctly identified the University of Denver (35 percent said "the University of Denver," 21 percent said "Denver University," and 18 percent said "DU").

Nationwide, the debate was viewed by 67.2 million people, according to recent Nielsen ratings. The debate's major effect was reinforcing existing views of likely voters rather than changing them. Sixty-nine percent of debate watchers became more strongly committed to their candidate, while only 7 percent became less strongly committed to their candidate.  Five percent of debate watchers reported changing their minds. 

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said jobs and the economy were the most important issues in the election – and by a margin of 50-45, they said Gov. Romney would do a better job. Significantly, among voters who cited jobs and the economy as their top concerns, Gov. Romney leads President Obama, 56-32.

"The poll found a significant amount of polarization in the Colorado electorate in regards to the economy," noted University of Denver political scientist Dr. Seth Masket. "Democrats are much more likely to see the economy and their overall economic situation to have improved over the past year. Republicans, meanwhile, have strongly negative views of the economy and their own economic situation over the past year. Independents are more likely to say that the economy has gotten worse over the past year."

Here are other key findings related to several issues specific to Colorado:

  • Immigration: Sixty-three percent of respondents favor a policy that allows illegal immigrants living and working in the United States the chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. Sixty-eight percent of respondents favor the President Obama's policy to allow illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children to obtain work permits and not face deportation. 
  • Same-Sex Marriage: Seventy-three percent of respondents support legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Forty-nine percent of respondents support legalizing same-sex marriage, while 24 percent prefer to legalize civil unions.  Twenty-three percent said no legal recognition should be given to same-sex relationships.
  • Marijuana Legalization: Fifty percent of likely voters said they support Colorado Amendment 64 to decriminalize marijuana, compared to 40 percent who oppose it. Twenty-one percent said it should never be legal, 47 percent said it should be regulated like alcohol and 28 percent said it should be legal for medicinal uses only. 
  • Concealed Weapons on College Campuses: Forty-nine percent favor the current law allowing students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, while 46 percent do not favor such legislation.

Led by Dr. Hanson, Dr. Masket and J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Company, the poll was conducted on Oct. 4 and 5 via telephone with 604 Colorado residents who are 18 years of age or older. To qualify as likely Colorado voters, respondents had to say that they live in Colorado and would definitely vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Responses were adjusted by age, race, and educational attainment to reflect the general population based on recent Census data. The poll included a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. To view the complete poll findings and full description of the methodology, please click here: http://debate2012.du.edu/archive/stories/poll.

The University of Denver is committed to improving the human condition and engaging students and faculty in tackling the major issues of our day. DU ranks among the top 100 national universities in the U.S. For additional information, go to www.du.edu/newsroom.

SOURCE University of Denver

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