Presidential Polls 2012: With Race Tied, That Who Dominates Debate Will Win the Election


President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will square off tonight in their third and final presidential debate at 9:00 p.m. (ET) from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. 

The stakes are high as both candidates remain locked in a too-close-to-call race according to a plurality of polls that show Mitt Romney chipping away at the president's lead in swing states and among different demographics once considered solidly Democratic, such as independent and female voters. 

Public Policy Polling shows Romney and Obama even at 48%, while Rasmussen has Romney with a 2-percentage points lead over the president (49% to 48%). Washington Times/Zogby, on the other hand, shows Obama leading by 3 percentage points (50% to Romney's 47%). WSJ/NBC News also shows both candidates tied at 47%, while Ipsos/Reuters gives the president a 1 point lead (46% to 45%) over Romney. GWU/Politico gives Romney a 2 percentage points lead (49% to 47%) over Obama. 

The two "outliers" are Gallup, which shows Romney with a 7-point lead over the president (52% to 45%), and IBD/TIPP that gives the president a 6-point lead (48% to 42%).

The race shifted right after the first presidential debate where Obama seemed aloof and disinterested while Romney seized the opportunity to project forcefulness and decisiveness in front of the millions of potential voters who tuned it (many of whom weren't familiar with the former governor of Massachusetts and CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital).

That's why the presidential debates have gained extra attention this year. Democrats hoped a better performance by Obama during the second debate would shift momentum back to the president's side. However, though Obama was largely considered the winner of the town hall-style debate, the president failed to win by a landslide -- like Mitt Romney did during the first debate -- and as a result the polls remained unmoved. 

And so both camps' attention has shifted to tonight's debate in Boca Raton, where the candidates will fight as their political lives depend on it. There have been some foreign policy and national security developments -- the Benghazi attack, the supposed bilateral talks with Iran -- that promise to bring some fireworks to the table. However, if polls are to be believed, less than 5% of Americans care about foreign policy enough to change their public opinion.