Some 40% said that Republican candidate Mitt Romney won Monday night's debate.
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Analysts said that while Romney held his own vis-à-vis Obama, the latter held a steady lead throughout the head-to-head debate.
According to the poll, 59% of those who watched the Florida showdown thought Obama's performance was stronger than expected, while 15% thought he underperformed. Some 23% thought he performed on par with their expectations.
As for Romney, 44% said the Republican hopeful outperformed their expectations, while 26% thought his performance was weaker than expected. CNN's data suggested 26% said he performed on par with expectations.
Romney and Obama face-off on foreign policy (Photo: Reuters)
A CBS poll saw Obama rate even higher. According to the poll, 53% of the more than 500 voters polled gave the foreign policy-themed debate to Obama; 23% said Romney won, and 24% felt the debate was a tie.
During the debate, Romney took a jab at Obama for failing to visit Israel as president.
"You went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq, and by the way you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region," Romney noted.
Obama quickly replied: "When I went to Israel as a candidate I didn’t take donors, I didn't attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.
"And then I went to the border town of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas and I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms."
Obama in Sderot in July 2008 (Photo: Gadi Kavalo)
Romney during fundraiser in Israel in July 2012 (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Romney emerged as the winner of the first presidential debate, while Obama had the upper hand in the second debate. The vice-presidential debate between acting VP Joe Biden and Romney's running mate Congressman Paul Ryan was largely viewed as a tie.
The CNN poll's sampling error margin stands on 4.5%.
The 2012 presidential race has been one of the closets seen in the United States in decades. Recent polls indicate both candidates are tied at 47% among likely voters.
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