According to the Gallup poll, three-fourths of Americans surveyed said they watched the debates, up from two-thirds after the initial contest. Television ratings from the Neilsen company suggest that might not be the case, however, with the second debate drawing 1.4 million fewer viewers by their survey.

Unsurprisingly, there was a sharp partisan split in judging the second debate performance. Democrats gave the president an 88-4 percent advantage, while Republicans favored Romney 78-9 percent. But the president carried independents, winning 54-33 percent among those who said they did not affiliate with either party.

The poll was conducted in the two days following Tuesday's debate, and carried a margin of error of 4 points.