Jackie Gingrich Cushman

President Barack Obama may believe he had beaten his GOP rival in Tuesday night's town hall debate, but his 90-minute performance could not make up for his lackluster job performance over the past four years.

At their first face-off, Obama appeared aloof, disinterested and arrogant, as if he would rather be hanging with Beyonce and Jay-Z rather than engaging in a debate with a challenger.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, who appeared engaged, knowledgeable and understanding, clearly won the first debate -- drastically shifting poll results.

Obama's lead among women voters deteriorated as they came to understand that the GOP candidate not only cared about them, but could positively affect the area that they care about the most: the economy.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday showed Romney pulling "within 1 point of the president among women who are likely voters, 48 percent-49 percent," and showed a lead for Romney "by 8 points among men" (October 5-11, based on likely voters, plus-or-minus 4 percentage points).

This poll finding differs from what it was four years ago, when women voted for Obama over the GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain, by 56 percent to 43 percent.

Why is this shift important? Because women historically outvote men.

Four years ago, 70.4 million women went to the polls versus 60.7 million men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the battleground states, women outvoted men in 2008.

Based on these data, women matter.

So what issues do women most care about?

Watching the debate last night, and listening to Obama and his team, you might conclude that birth control and abortion are the most important issues on women's minds.

Not true.

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, more women (88 percent) said that the economy was very important. This was higher than any other issue. The economy was most often cited by men, as well, with 86 percent saying it was very important (survey conducted April 4-15, of 3,008 adults, with a sampling error of plus-or-minus 2.1 points).

Interesting that women, more than men, thought the economy was very important. But not surprising. Is it more likely that women or men pay the household bills?

Who feels the pain every week as they look at the price of gasoline that has risen from $1.84 a gallon to $3.75 per gallon since Obama has taken office? Women.

Of the 18 issues included in the survey, abortion ranked 15th, with 44 percent of women saying it was very important. Birth control ranked 17th, with 40 percent of women saying it was very important.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.