Obama cut off Romney in mid-sentence 36 times, while Romney cut off Obama 28 times, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University in Virginia. Moderator Candy Crowley cut off Romney 23 times, compared with the 15 times she cut off Obama.
The organization combined all forms of interruption and found that Romney was interrupted 59 times, compared with 43 times for Obama.
The figures are more reliable than others compiled by partisan outfits that style themselves as media watchdogs.
Other findings released Friday by the George Mason media center:
—Crowley interrupted the two candidates a total of 38 times, nearly twice as often as the 20 times they interrupted her — 11 times by Romney and nine times by Obama.
—The two candidates interrupted debate No. 1 moderator Jim Lehrer even more often — 30 times during their 90-minute first debate. (Critics subsequently dubbed Lehrer “Silent Jim.”)
—The three participants at the microphones Tuesday managed a total of 122 interruptions. That takes some work — averaging 1.4 cut-ins per minute for the hour and a half debate.
Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, wondered whether the short-term gain of seizing the floor might be outweighed by a long-term loss.
“President Obama may have benefited in the short run by adopting a much more aggressive style,” Lichter said. “But so many interruptions push the boundaries of civility in political debate.”