Public Policy Polling did an insta-poll (MoE: 4.7%) of Coloradans after last night’s debate. It showed Coloradans moved equally toward each candidate:
  • 37% said they were more likely to vote for Obama,
  • 36% said they were more likely to vote for Romney.

 If Obama’s team was hoping for a wipe out, they didn’t get it, even aided by the highly partisan moderator, Candy Crowley – who behaved like an NFL replacement referee, interrupting Romney three times more often than she interrupted Obama and denying Romney equal time.

But there is more here than a tie.

Independents Are Key

45% of Independents thought Obama did better and 31% said Romney did better. Since PPP didn’t ask who people were voting for, we can’t know Independents’ support for the candidates from this poll.

Three other pollsters reported Colorado results this month AND gave party breakouts of who Independent voters support. (McLaughlinARG, and WAA.) The average Independent result:

  • 45.8% for Obama and 
  • 45.8% for Romney.

Perhaps all Independents who support Obama thought he did better and most Independents for Romney thought the same thing. If so, pundit Michael Barone may be right that this debate reinforced existing voting decisions, but didn’t change many minds. 

Party Not So Faithful

PPP reports that 14% of Democrats were more likely to vote for Romney and 12% of Republicans more likely to vote for Obama. That’s well within the poll’s margin of error, and – again – it doesn’t say they actually changed their minds.

Debate Two Take Home

First two facts: Colorado’s 2008 exit poll gave Obama a 10% edge among Independents in a year when turnout by party was a near tie. Add in the polls’ tie between Romney and Obama among Independents, and things have changed – toward the Republican side. (Especially since, despite the Democrats’ registration drive, Republicans still lead in Colorado registered voters.)

Now a big, fat IF: If this debate didn’t change Coloradans’ minds and their minds stay made up, then – given 

  • the Republican registration edge, 
  • the tie among Independents between the candidates and 
  • the historic greater turnout percentages among Republicans than Democrats –

Republicans ought to see Colorado return to the Republican column this election.