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[Update, 9:30 a.m.: Although the raw data on screen showed overwhelming support for Obama, Microsoft says a more detailed crunching of the numbers reveals positive underlying trends for Romney, more along the lines of the broader public reaction to the debate. See the company’s statement below.]

Public opinion polls following last night’s U.S. Presidential Debate are giving the victory to Mitt Romney, but people who watched the debate on Xbox Live and participated in Microsoft’s interactive polling system came away with a very different impression.

The live results shown on Xbox Live during the debate repeatedly favored Obama, as Microsoft’s pollsters asked which candidate came out on top in different aspects of the debate. At one point, Xbox Live switched around the order of the choices, making Obama slightly more difficult to select, but still the president dominated the results.

Chalk it up to demographics. Microsoft has been able to broaden the Xbox 360’s user base beyond hard-core gamers by adding a broader set of entertainment features, but the company acknowledges that its user base still isn’t a representative sample of voters.

However, the company wants its polling data to be taken seriously, and said in advance of the debates that it would be working with the online polling service YouGov to project results that better reflect the broader population, using the raw data from its polling along with aggregated demographic information provided by users.

Update: Here is Microsoft’s statement, based on a more detailed look at the numbers …

Despite the raw, real-time perception of the numbers, Romney was indeed a winner with the Xbox LIVE audience. We asked 10 questions during the debate to gauge who won exchanges or segments, and we found that “undecideds” broke for Romney while Obama consistently lost support from his base.

  • 9 out of 10 times, Romney exceeded his baseline support.
  • 8 out of 10 times, Obama fell below his baseline support.
  • 88% of the respondents were likely voters and 69% engaged to the point of not only voting, but responding that they will definitely talk to their social network about their position on the election.
  • Approximately 30% of participants self-identified as undecided or leaning toward a candidate (11% undecided and 17% leaners).
  • While we don’t release specific numbers for Xbox LIVE events, participation was strong and amazingly consistent throughout the entirety of the debate. We can tell you that we’ve seen approx. 10,000 users responding to the daily polls, and participation in this event far exceeded this number.

Tweets from Xbox Live users provide a sense for what was going on last night …

Image by Chad Kanera via TwitPic.

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