Gov. Mitt Romney won his first debate with President Barack Obama on Oct. 3: that's the major finding from Red and Blue Commonwealth flash polls sent out to Massachusetts Republicans and Democrats immediately after the debate ended on Tuesday night.
Local influential Republicans polled in Patch's survey voted 86.2 percent that Romney won by a wide margin, with the remaining 13.8 percent voting that he won by a slim margin.
Local influential Democrats voted 19.1 percent that Romney won by a wide margin and 28.6 percent voted that he won by a slim margin, while 19.1 percent voted that Obama won by a slim margin and only 9.5 percent voted that the president won by a wide margin. Another 23.8 percent voted "neutral."
Asked who would be the consensus "winner" as declared by the national media, Democrats and Republicans opinions were almost identical, with the majority of each—51.7 percent of Republicans and 52.4 percent of Democrats—voting that Romney would be declared the winner by a slim margin.
Also, 24.1 percent of Republicans and 23.8 percent of Democrats voted Romney would be declared the winner by a wide margin, while 17.2 percent of Republicans and 14.3 percent of Democrats voted Obama would be declared the winner by a slim margin. No one from either side voted for Obama being declared the winner by a wide margin.
What Moment Stood Out?
Asked for a moment that will stand out in the minds of conservatives in Massachusetts, Republicans cited a variety of topics and lines, but most common were Romney's phrases about "trickle down government" and the governor's repeated line about $90 billion in funding going to green energy, with the accompanying quote, "You don't pick the winners and losers—you just pick the losers."
Republicans also cited Romney's defense of his health care bill in Massachusetts and his stance on the Constitutional role of government.
"Opening answer and start of the debate by Mitt Romney," one Republican surveyed answered. "He started off knocking it out of the park and just went from there."
Democrats were less enthusiastic when asked for a moment that will stand out for liberals and progressive in Massachusetts, with one calling the debate a "rather doldrum affair." Some criticized the president for being too "dispassionate" and "passive."
"At the end of the first round, Romney took control and responded to the president when he should not have been allowed to do so," one Democrat answered. "That loss of momentum for the president never recovered. The president was never aggressive enough to impress the viewers."
Asked for a moment that will stand out in the mind of swing voters in Massachusetts, several Republicans cited Romney repeatedly returning to the theme of partisanship while characterizing as Obamacare as a partisan bill.
Democrats expressed a variety of answers to the stand out moment for swing voters, with some saying Romney taking control of the debate, with others saying Romney did not provide a level of specificity for his plans.
Romney's Performance Makes it More Likely He'll Win in November
Of the local Republicans polled, 72.4 percent strongly agreed that Romney's debate performance makes it more likely he'll win the election, with another 42.1 percent voting they somewhat agreed.
None of the Democrats strongly agreed that Obama's debate performance would make it more likely he'll win the election, with 28.6 percent voting they somewhat agreed, 38.1 percent voting neutral, 23.8 percent voting somewhat disagree and 9.5 percent voting strongly disagree.
In closing opinions, Republicans expressed enthusiasm over their candidate's performance, with several taking shots at Obama not being able to use a Teleprompter and calling his appearance "uncomfortable" and "annoyed," and calling Romney's appearance and demeanor "relaxed" and "polished."
"Mitt surprised a lot of people tonight," one Republican said. "My Facebook newsfeed lit up the entire night with people on both sides of the aisle shocked at how badly Obama was getting destroyed."
Democrats expressed disappointment in their final opinions, both over moderator Jim Lehrer's control over the candidates' time to answer and Obama's performance, which was called "unfocused" and not aggressive enough, saying it let Romney slip away without being challenged.
"Obama simply didn't seem focused," one Democrat said. "Many times Romney contradicted his campaign promises so far, or his math didn't add up, and Obama didn't challenge him. It was very disappointing."