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Re: Debate Reaction - Town Hall Debate


A quick follow-up to last night's post on the initial quick reaction debate polls. One point I've tried to make on this subject is that debate usually reinforce existing preferences. Democrats like the Democrat, Republicans like the Republican, so polls that tell us who "won" can sometimes be misleading if the debate audience is skewed toward the partisans of one side or another.

That scenario was not in play last night. In fact, the five surveys for which I could find data all showed a very consistent result. On the question of "who won" or did better in the debate, Democrats consistently gave higher marks to Obama than Republicans did to McCain and independents who could pick a winner typically chose Obama by large margins.


2008-10-08 debate by party.png

The surveys cited are the two cited last night, from CNN/ORC and CBS/Knowledge Networks (see my post from the first debate for more details on their methodologies), plus the Media Curves online/text message survey, and two automated telephone surveys of debate viewers conducted by SurveyUSA in California and Washington State, two western time zone states where they could make cold calls at a reasonable evening hour after the debate ended.'

Keep in mind that the CBS survey is the only one that limited its reach to those who had been previously uncommitted, that is they were either totally undecided or who might still change their minds.  So the smaller number in that survey willing to rate either candidate a "winner" is not at all surprising. 

 

Comments
4LessYears:

I don't know where else to post this, but what's with the McCain bias today? You guys just took down a link to a Biden rally only to replace it at the top of the headlines with a McCain rally that was already posted! And most of your headlines are repetitious attacks from the McCain campaign with parsed quotes. What's going on? Is pollster looking for drama in this election?

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burrito:


Hi Mark,

I have seen that there are a couple of new polls from Rasmussen (WI and MN), but I do not see them in Pollster ... what's up with that?? ))

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gjdodger:

Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, actually.

WI: Obama 54, McCain 44

PA: Obama 54, McCain 41

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gjdodger:

Just saw Minnesota. Obama, 52-45

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1magine:

If indeps and un decides keep breakin his way, then the only indep/ undecides left will really be just racist repubs who hate Sydney but can't bring themselves to vote for 'that guy'. Honestly - many of these people would rather bleed to death than let a black doctor stitch them up. When that's all that's left out there, and I think it is, then we need to carefully evaluate the polls. BO is at about 52 - JM is about 46, JM will rise to 47/48 by election day and BO will win by 4-6 pts.

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One interesting question that doesn't seem to be answered in any of the polls is: how do the debate-watchers break down by preference? In other words, do Obama-supporters or McCain-supporters tend to watch debates at higher rates? Or does it not matter? By screening these polls to exclude those who didn't watch the debates, these polls could be adding selection bias if debate-watching is correlated with candidate support. And this bias could well be strong enough to produce these kind of results; just because a voter is "uncommitted" or "undecided" doesn't mean that he or she isn't leaning even slightly toward one candidate or another. Similarly, if Obama-supporting Republicans were more likely to watch then McCain-supporting Republicans, this would also produce results which showed an Obama win even in the event of a tie.

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George Not Bush:

The debate winner wins the election

The snap polls grade the debate performance, but it takes a few days of viewers talking among themselves and non-viewers for opinions to shift. Then it takes a few days for polls to pick up any shift.

The upshot is that it takes at least a week for a debate to produce any shift in poll numbers -- by which time we're on to the next debate.

It has already been well discussed that the spin doctors are quick to claim their candidate won. They do that so that their supporters can feel their candidate won and talk him up.

Remember that Kerry wiped the floor with Bush in the first debate, but Bush held his ground in the next two debates.

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Tom:

LEAKED! Questions that got banned from the town hall "debate"...

"Senator McCain, regarding our hostages in Guantanamo, in your opinion does their experience being tortured by us for the last five years qualify them to be presidents of their respective countries?"

More banned questions at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuQDTjx-ygM

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