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Obama nudges his lead since debate

He convinces more voters that he is 'presidential' and up to the top challenges facing the nation.

September 29, 2008|Noam N. Levey | Times Staff Writer

Obama opened an even bigger gap on the question of empathy, with 51% of debate-watchers saying they believed he "cares about people like you," compared with 27% who said the same about McCain. A week ago, Obama had an 11-point lead on the question.

Obama also appears to have convinced more voters he could handle international affairs.

After the debate, 69% of registered voters said they were confident in Obama's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, up eight points from a week earlier.

Even some McCain supporters seemed satisfied with Obama's performance.

"He gave better answers than I would have expected," said Lloyd Grames, 80, of San Mateo, Calif. "If Obama should win, I would be a bit more comfortable with him. He really made me nervous before."

Confidence in McCain's ability to deal with an international crisis remained about the same, with 76% saying they were confident in him, down three points from a week ago.

McCain has also lost ground on the issue of Iraq, despite growing sentiment that the troop buildup he championed had succeeded in helping curb the violence. He now has a 13-percentage-point edge over Obama on the question of who would best achieve success in Iraq, compared with a 17-percentage-point edge last week.




Before and after

The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll interviewed registered voters before and after the first presidential debate between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama on Friday. Here is a look at how the views of voters who watched the debate were affected.

Q: Did Barack Obama's/John McCain's performance in the debate change your mind about whether or not he has the right experience to be president? If it did, are you more, or less, inclined to think he has the right experience?


Didn't change opinion: 81%

Less inclined: 9%

More inclined: 9%

Don't know: 1%


Didn't change opinion: 81%

Less inclined: 5%

More inclined: 11%

Don't know: 3%

Q: If the presidential election were being held today, for which presidential ticket would you vote?


Barack Obama / Joe Biden: 48%

John McCain / Sarah Palin: 45%

Someone else: 1%

Don't know: 6%


Barack Obama / Joe Biden: 49%

John McCain / Sarah Palin: 44%

Someone else: 1%

Don't know: 6%

Q: Who would do a better job of handling the financial crisis next year?

*--* Pre-debate Post-debate Barack Obama 45% 48% John McCain 39% 36% Neither / both 8% 10% Don't know 8% 6% *--*

Q: Do you have confidence in Barack Obama's / John McCain's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis?

*--* Pre-debate Post-debate Response Obama McCain Obama McCain A lot of confidence 32% 47% 34% 32% Some confidence 29 32 34 34 No confidence 36 19 29 23 *--*

Q: Who do you think would be best at . . . ?

*--* Pre-debate Post-debate Response Obama McCain Obama McCain

Strengthening the economy 48% 32% 49% 28%

Dealing with rising fuel 48 33 43 30 prices

Having more honesty and 40 40 43 34 integrity

Changing things in 50 31 47 25 Washington, D.C.

Achieving success in Iraq 35 52 35 48

Caring more about people 45 34 51 27 like you

Protecting the country from 31 52 34 52 terrorism *--*

Note: Results may not add to 100% when some answer categories are not shown. For complete wording and further results, visit

All responses are among registered voters.

How the poll was conducted: The Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg poll interviewed registered voters who watched Friday's presidential debate nationwide by telephone Friday through Sunday. The survey called back 1,287 registered voters who completed interviews in a Times/Bloomberg survey conducted Sept. 19-22, 2008. The registered voters were called back after the debate to get their opinion about the candidates. Of those, 448 were debate watchers. Telephone numbers in the original survey sample were chosen randomly in separate samples of landline and cellphone exchanges, allowing listed and unlisted numbers to be contacted, and multiple attempts were made to contact each number. Cellphone exchanges were hand-dialed. The cell and landline samples were combined and adjusted for sample size and nonresponse. Adults in the combined sample were adjusted to the most recent estimates from the National Health Interview Survey for household phone types and to census proportions of sex, ethnicity, age, education and national region. The margin of sampling error for all registered voters in the original sample is plus or minus

3 percentage points; among debate watchers, it is plus or minus 4 percentage points. For smaller subgroups, the error margin may be higher. Survey results may also be affected by combining samples and by factors such as question wording and the order in which questions are asked. Interviews in both surveys were conducted by Interviewing Service of America Inc. in Van Nuys.


Source: Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg poll

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