Romney’s Debate Dividends

Karl Rove checks in on voter registration efforts and find Mitt Romney capitalizing in more area than just the polls following his thrashing of Obama in the debates:

How big an impact did Mitt Romney’s performance in last week’s debate have? Huge. Mr. Romney not only won the night, he changed the arc of the election—and perhaps its outcome.


An Oct. 7 Pew Research report found that before the debate, Romney voters were four points more likely than Obama voters to give the election “a lot of thought.” After it, Romney-voter engagement was 15 points higher than that of Obama voters. This enthusiasm gap already expresses itself in voter registration and is now influencing early voting.

Voter registration

In the eight battleground states that register voters by party, Republicans have maintained their advantage or cut into the Democrats’ in all but one (Nevada). Since September 2008, Republicans have kept their registration advantages in Colorado and New Hampshire. They’ve added more new Republican registrations than Democrats did in Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. And they’ve lost fewer voters from the rolls than Democrats did in New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Early voting

  • Republicans are also getting the better of Mr. Obama in early voting. In 2008, Democrats made up 51% of the North Carolina early vote while Republicans were 30%. This year, Republicans have cast 54% of the ballots returned so far, Democrats only 28%, according to state data compiled by George Mason University’s Michael McDonald for his United States Election Project.
  • In Florida, 46% of absentee ballots returned by September’s end came from Republicans (compared with 37% in 2008) while just 38% came from Democrats (they were 46% of the total in 2008). More Republicans have requested absentee ballots in Colorado, a state where Democrats edged out Republicans in early voting last time.
  • Republicans have also made up ground in Ohio. For example, in 2008 Democrats requested 5% more absentee ballots in Franklin County (Columbus), 4% more in Greene County (Xenia), and 11% more in Wood County (Bowling Green). This election, Republicans have more ballot requests than Democrats in these counties by 5%, 19% and 1% respectively.


The Romney campaign saw a $12 million surge in online contributions following the debate, and major GOP fundraisers are again opening their checkbooks. True enough, Hollywood stars and rich San Francisco liberals wrote big checks during Mr. Obama’s two-day California swing this week. But it isn’t clear what overall impact the president’s poor debate performance will have on his fundraising. The small Internet donors that produced an eye-popping $181 million fundraising total in September may be disappointed in his debate skills and waiting to see if he improves.


  1. jvnvch
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    President Obama and his campaign placed all their bets on demonizing Mitt Romney. It was a huge mistake. When the real Mitt Romney appeared at the debate, he was clearly no demon. End of story.

  2. jvnvch
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    More debate dividends?

    “Every now and them we conduct a poll that produces results that stubbornly swim against the current. That usually brings out our CSI lab coats to figure out why, and we sometime end up calling the results a simple outlier and letting it die on the vine. This one may be different. Over the last three nights, we’ve polled Virginia’s U.S. Senate race pitting former DNC chair/former governor Tim Kaine against former governer/senator George Allen. First the numbers:
    Poll type: Automated Date: October 7-9, 2012 – Participants: 1,296 Likely Voters – Margin of Error: ± 2.9%
    Tim Kaine (D) George Allen (R) Undecided GOP / DEM / IND
    41.26% 46.01% 12.73% 34 / 32 / 34

    Any time our numbers go that much against the grain of conventional wisdom, you can bet on us re-visting the race soon. But we decided to publish the results because there’s something interesting going on in Virginia and other states. There is a significant percentage of voters who are shifting their self-described political party affiliation; we refer to them as lane changers. People who are strict party loyalists sometimes find it disconcerting that affiliations can shift like this. In truth, its probably more accurate to simply call these lane changers Independents, but we’ve seen a lot of it lately, and that may why so many are wringing their hands about pollsters’ mix of GOP/Dem/Ind in their polls.

    In our opinion, those who try to shape their samples based on the 2008 presidential mix are missing the boat. While digging into the reasons our numbers are different–and out of curiosity–we weighted the raw numbers out of Virginia based on that 2008 presidential ratio. Lo and behold…it moves Kaine AHEAD by four points, about the same lead the the Real Clear Politics average is showing in this race. That doesn’t mean that other pollsters are using the wrong mix, but it makes us wonder.

    In the Virginia Senate race, we’ll take our lumps if we’re wrong and we’ll self-report if future polls show we’re off the mark. But we think others ought to jump into this one and see if Mitt Romney’s sudden surge is having some coattails here.”

  3. damien
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    COLUMBUS…home to ohio state…pubs up in absentee?….kids leaving obama here…wonder where else

  4. jvnvch
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I see the UPI tracking poll was Obama +2 before the debate, and is now Romney +3, for a five point swing. I wonder why this poll isn’t more widely reported.

    “WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) — Republican rival Mitt Romney picked up 3 points to lead U.S. President Obama 49 percent to 46 percent, a United Press International poll indicated Thursday.

    Romney’s lead, which was within the poll’s 4.5 percentage-point margin of error, was based on a national survey taken by UPI-CVoter pollsters in the days following the first presidential debate.

    It is the first time Romney has had the lead since the UPI poll began this election cycle.

    While Romney’s lead is 3 percentage points among likely voters, his net gain since the seven days immediately before the debate is 5 percentage points, UPI said. During a poll taken a Sept. 27-Oct 3, 48 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Obama and 46 percent said they would back Romney.”

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