DETROIT - President Barack Obama's debate performance did some real damage.
Exclusive polling conducted by Local 4 and the Detroit News after the presidential debate shows Obama's double-digit lead in Michigan has been cut in 1/2. Obama now leads 49 percent to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's 42.3 percent. That's a 6.7 percent lead for Obama, down from 14.7 percent a month ago.
The gender gap still fuels the spread in Michigan, but it's not was it was a month ago. Suburban independent women will decide the election in Michigan. The President still enjoys a 9 percentage point lead over Romney with Michigan women. However, it was a 20-point lead last month.
"It tells us there is a segment of the female vote, and I think it's largely suburban women, who are up for grabs. And they are a very volatile group," said pollster Richard Czuba.
The county numbers show an interesting statistic. Romney made gains in three Metro Detroit counties. He is up 8.9 percent over Obama in Oakland County, a major 19 percent in Macomb County and a slim 2.8 percent in Wayne County, not including the city of Detroit. Romney does not even register with voters in Detroit where Obama has 95 percent of the vote.
"I think the African American vote in Michigan is Barack Obama's firewall," said Czuba.
Czuba attributes the Obama slide to his debate performance. That means the next two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate on Thursday are important because it's clear they move numbers.
"This is a race again," said Czuba. "Mitt Romney's performance at that debate turned this back into a race. Whether or not the Romney campaign can move to the next level and make this a dead-even race in Michigan remains to be seen."
Stabenow maintains commanding lead for Michigan Senate
Stabenow now has 50.1 percent of the votes to Hoekstra's 37.5 percent. Typically, when candidates poll below 50 percent they are considered vulnerable.