Colorado news outlets are reporting that Mitt Romney won last night's debate (e.g., Denver Post "Round One: Romney"), but we all know it's the undecided voters who count, and news stories about undecided voters in Colorado showed that they mostly weren't swayed by the debate one way or the other.
For example, 9News' Kyle Clark asked a focus group of 12 undecided voters in Colorado who won the debate, and more said that Obama did.
Clark: Who thinks President Obama decisively won tonight's debate?
[A third of the group raised their hands]
Clark: Who thinks Mitt Romney decisively won tonight's debate?
[One man raised his hand]
Clark: Was any person in this room convinced to cast their vote for one man or another based on what you saw here tonight?
[No one raised a hand]
Clark: Not a single person in the room was convinced.
The Denver Post's focus group of Colorado undecided voters came to pretty much the same conclusion, though The Post reported that "many" of its group thought Romeny had a "successful" debate, and "some" said they'd now vote for him.
I asked The Post's Jeremy P. Meyer to clarify more precisely how the group felt, and Meyer told me that after the debate, of 15 undecided voters interviewed, 14 appeared to be still undecided and one person was now going to vote for Romney. Of the remaining 14 people who were still undecided after the debate, five were leaning more to Romney and three thought Obama did a better job, Meyer said.
The Post's story on its focus group reflected this, beginning with:
A group of undecided voters who gathered at The Denver Post to watch Wednesday's debate came away mostly still on the fence about who to support Nov. 6.
Yet, The Post's front page banner in the print edition read: "Round One: Romney."
The truth is, in Colorado, the best evidence we have so far about what really matters, the undecided voters, shows that the debate was, as 9News political analyst Ryan Frazier, a Republican, put it, "a bit of a wash."
Yet the tenor of news coverage in Colorado, blaring a Romney win, did not reflect this reality. 9News and the Post both did the right thing by convening focus groups of undecided, even if the Post should have better spotlighted what these voters had to say.
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