According to the instant polls conducted after the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., America thinks one candidate was a clear winner Monday night.
An average of "snap polls" finds debate viewers think President Barack Obama won the night by a large margin. The polls show Obama won by an average of 17 points, a larger margin than the previous two debates but not as large as Romney's margin of victory in the first debate.
A CBS News poll of undecided debate watchers found the president won decisively, with 53 percent declaring him the winner, 23 percent saying Romney, and 24 percent believing it was a draw. That 30 percentage point win is the largest margin of victory across all four debates in CBS News polls, including the first one, for which Romney's margin of victory was 24 percentage points.
U.S. News' online poll of those who visited its debate live blog found Obama won by a similarly decisive margin, 64 percent to 36 percent.
Two other debate surveys, a CNN poll of registered voters watching the debate and an online poll by Google Consumer Surveys, also found Obama won, but by a smaller margin. Forty-eight percent of those in the CNN poll said Obama won, compared to 40 percent for Romney, resulting in an 8 percentage point victory for the president—about the same result as the second. Google's online survey gave Obama a 10 percentage point victory.
Public Policy Polling, a more conventional polling outfit, surveyed voters in 11 swing states who watched the debate. It gave the president an 11 point victory, and an edge across all demographics. The 500 voters surveyed were not persuaded one way or the other by either candidate's debate performance however, the pollsters said.
Only the first debate showed significant, permanent change in more scientific state and national polls. Averaging the CBS News, CNN, and Google surveys, Romney's margin of victory in that debate was 29 percentage points, which translated into roughly a 4 percentage point national poll bounce, according to the New York Times. The other three debates showed smaller margins of victory in snap polls, and none left a permanent mark on the race, indicating the president will receive a modest boost at best from Monday's performance.
Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.