What did the CNN poll really show?

CNN???s nationwide post-debate poll gave the win, if only by a slight margin, to President Obama based on the answer to the broad question ???Who won the second presidential debate???? The split was 46 percent to 39 percent, just outside the margin of error. Left-leaning websites blazed with ???Obama wins,??? but even CNN modulated its headline with ???Split Decision??? and a story that said the poll results ???give a slight edge??? to Obama.

???Tie??? was probably closer to a truthful headline, especially when considering the answers to a number of CNN???s other poll questions, which showed Romney even with or better than President Obama on a variety of topics.

For instance, Romney enjoyed a substantial lead on perceptions of his discussion of the economy, which his team has tried to make a defining issue in the campaign.

From CNN: ???Mitt Romney was seen as better able to handle the economy (58 percent for Romney to 40 percent Obama), taxes (51 percent to 44 percent), and the budget deficit (59 percent to 36 percent) among the debate audience, but it seems that issues were trumped, or at least blunted, by intangibles, including the expectations game,??? says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

On the intangible measures Holland refers to, as reported by HuffPost: Romney took a slight (49 percent to 46 percent) advantage on being a stronger leader, while Obama scored points for being more likable (47 percent to 41 percent) and caring more about the audience (44 percent to 40 percent). Forty-five percent of respondents said Romney answered questions more directly and 43 percent said Obama did, while 49 percent said Obama spent more time attacking his opponent and 35 percent said Romney did.

The instant poll of 457 registered voters who watched was taken immediately after the debate, according to CNN.