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Post-debate polls show tighter race in Colorado

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DENVER — After his decisive win in the first presidential debate here Wednesday night, Mitt Romney’s support is expanding in two new surveys of Colorado voters.

A survey conducted by the University of Denver, which hosted the debate, asked 604 Coloradans who said they would definitely be voting in the presidential election about their preference for president.

President Barack Obama received 47 percent of the support, just ahead of Mitt Romney, who picked up 43 percent in the poll.

A key to the president maintaining a slim advantage after his shaky debate performance is a 48-31 percent edge with independent voters, the largest voter bloc in the state.

Romney, however, lead Obama 50-45 on the question of which candidate would do a better job on the economy.

“Two important lessons from the polls are, first, there are very few undecided voters left in Colorado, and second, Gov. Romney has improved his position to win them over in the closing days of the race,” said Dr. Peter Hanson, a political science professor at DU who helped conduct the poll.

“President Obama is maintaining a narrow lead in the state, but the major question is how much movement we can expect in the polls in coming weeks with not many voters left for the candidates to persuade.”

According to DU, 81 percent of respondents watched the debate and another 14 percent heard about it.

Overall, 68 percent of the respondents, including half of those supporting Obama, thought that Romney won. Just 19 percent of the people surveyed said Obama was the winner.

The DU study, released at midnight Sunday, came on the heels of a new survey by Gravis Marketing, conducted last Wednesday and Thursday, which gives Romney the lead in Colorado.

That survey of 1,285 likely Colorado voters has Romney leading Obama 49-46 percent, just outside the poll’s 2.8 percent margin of error.

Mr. Obama’s job approval numbers are also significantly down in the new poll: 40 percent approve, while 51 percent disapprove. 

The political party affiliation of the survey’s sample was about 32 percent Republican, 28 percent Democrat and 40 percent “other.”