SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney faced off in a town-hall style debate in New York Tuesday evening crackling with energy and emotion just three weeks before the election. The president accused Romney of favoring a “one-point plan” to help the rich in America and playing politics with the terror attack in Libya.
Romney pushed back hard, saying the middle class “has been crushed over the last four years.” He said that 23 million Americans are struggling to find work, and that the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya was part of an unraveling of the administration’s foreign policy.
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>> Watch The Debate Again: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4
The president was feistier from the outset than he had been in their initial encounter two weeks ago, and a KPIX-TV CBS 5 poll conducted immediately following the 90-minute debate found that Californians felt Obama out-dueled Romney 56% to 32%.
However, Independent voters in the Golden State were split evenly on the performances of the pair — who disagreed both forcefully and repeatedly about taxes, the bailout of the auto industry, measures to reduce the deficit, energy, pay equity for women and health care as well as foreign policy and immigration.
The CBS 5 poll, conducted by the firm SurveyUSA, interviewed 656 Californians who watched the debate on television. Overall, the results showed:
* 56% said Obama was the clear winner (compared to 34% who said Obama won the 1st debate in Denver).
* 32% said Romney was the clear winner (compared to 48% who said Romney won the 1st debate in Denver).
* 12% said there was no clear winner.
As always, the SurveyUSA pollsters cautioned that California is a so-called “blue” state and more Democrats in California watched the debate than did Republicans. That’s why, the pollsters noted, that it’s important to study reaction along party lines, which found:
* Democrats by 72 points said Obama was the clear winner (Democrats gave Obama a 30-point margin in Denver).
* Republicans by 41 points said Romney was the clear winner (Republicans gave Romney a 65-point margin in Denver).
* Independents split, 44% for Romney, 44% for Obama (Independents favored Romney by 34 points in Denver).
* Every region of the state scored the debate for Obama.
The CBS 5 poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9%.
The final debate, next Monday in Florida, will be devoted to foreign policy issues.
(Copyright 2012 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)