Open thread: The first debate

posted at 8:21 pm on October 3, 2012 by Allahpundit

9 p.m. ET all across the dial and streaming live at C-SPAN.org. Yesterday’s WSJ/NBC poll had 22 percent of likely voters saying that the debates will be “extremely important” to their vote. Today, Rasmussen finds 17 percent saying they’ll be “very important.” Either way, you’ve got roughly one-fifth of the electorate signaling some willingness to shift based on what happens tonight (and at the next two face-offs) in a race that’s statistically tied at the moment and arguably only now just beginning. To paraphrase “Honest Joe,” this is potentially a big effing deal.

Also a big effing deal? The media’s post-debate “narrative-building”:

Consider this experiment. In 2004, Kim Fridkin and other researchers at Arizona State University showed people footage of the third presidential debate, the debate plus 20 minutes of post-debate commentary on NBC, the debate plus 20 minutes’ time to read commentary on CNN.com. So who won the debate, Bush or Kerry? It depended on whether you watched the news…

People watching the debate tended to think that Kerry had won, as did those who read analysis on CNN. But those who watched the NBC post-morten had the opposite impression. Fridkin et al. write:

“Our findings suggest that voters’ attitudes are influenced by the arguments presented directly by the candidates during the debate as well as by the media’s instant analyses of the candidates’ debate performances….the impact of the candidates’ messages was often altered by the media’s instant analyses.”

The idea of NBC boosting Bush doesn’t compute for me any more than it does for you, but there you go. It’s not just the post-debate yammering that might influence viewers, either:

Through the art of video production, one candidate can be portrayed more favorably than the other. On October 7, 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain met for the second of three presidential debates. The format was a town hall debate. Both men roamed the floor and locked eyes with the audience members who asked questions. Numerous cameras were placed around the room to capture the candidates regardless of where they stood.

While equal time was given to each man for questions, the audience, when viewing the televised debate, experienced subtle differences in the camera angles for each candidate. Typically, when Obama spoke, the camera displayed a close up, eye-level image, filling the frame with his upper chest and face. This presented to the viewer a strong image of Obama. In contrast, when McCain spoke, the camera often showed a waist-up, medium shot, filling the frame with as much background as McCain himself. These shots made McCain appear small, which was exaggerated from time to time by camera angles that looked down on him. In addition, because of the wide shots of McCain, Obama had more face time on camera, as he was often shown in the background when McCain answered a question.

No one expects Romney to get a fair shake tonight in the aftermath, but one potential complicating factor is that not all of the media’s biases are strictly ideological. Ross Douthat (and Jon Chait) made a fair point recently about how their bias towards horse-race coverage casts a shadow of hopelessness over the candidate that’s fallen behind in the polls. Highly motivated, strongly partisan voters won’t care about that but low-information undecideds who pay attention only sporadically may be led to perceive the trailing candidate as, in Chait’s words, “faintly ridiculous,” which destroys the air of presidential viability that he’s trying to build. In Romney’s case, the ideological and horse-race biases overlap to work against the GOP, but they don’t always: John Cook of Gawker argued a few days ago that the media’s doing to Romney what it once did to both John Kerry and Al Gore, namely, pigeonholing him as a weird, stiff, hapless loser because his slight personal awkwardness is an obvious contrast with the confident charm of his opponent. It’s all about the narrative, and if they’ve got a narrative staring them in the face involving a guy who’s good at retail politics and a guy who’s not so good, that’s one that they’re going to grasp.

The punchline is that the media’s also biased for professional reasons towards having an exciting race to cover, and a post-debate “Romney comeback” narrative would serve that end. I’m not expecting it — I think ideological interests will trump all given that the race is so close — but if Mitt is sharp and composed, which he’s likely to be, you may see some “he helped himself tonight” chatter later even if there’s a reluctance by the press to pronounce him the winner. If you’re interested in watching the narrative sausage being made in real time, I recommend opening up a separate tab and following this feed of political journalists compiled by Matt Lewis. As with all Twitter communities, most of those people follow each other so there’ll be a plenty of perception insta-reinforcement afoot.

Tonight’s debate is supposed to be devoted to domestic policy but Libya likely will be mentioned. So will George W. Bush’s record, maybe by both sides. The 2007 Obama speech at Hampton U likely will not. Here’s the handy dandy Hot Air/Townhall Twitter widget, which should be buzzing until the wee hours. Enjoy.



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Comment pages: 1 8 9 10 11 12 46

It’s math-from obama!?!

Little Boomer on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

ECON PROF JUGEARS…FAIL!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Damn. Mitt did his homework. Barry had Chris Matthews do his. It’s obvious who came more prepared.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Look at Mitt gloat. He is under Barry’s skin.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Obama looks so small, so pathetic.
YOU DIDN”T BUILD THAT!

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

KEEP IT UP MITT!!!!!

Barred on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

encouraging small biz O? You LIE again

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Mitt is KILLIN’ it!!

stuckinwisconsin on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

He can’t shut up.

stenwin77 on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

He likes to hear himself talk.

CW on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

lets see barrys grades.

renalin on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Obama: Math is hard.

Fallon on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Of course, Obama, you can’t do math.

talkingpoints on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

First Chris Matthews racism dog whistle: Romney says “Boys” referring to his children, and then makes an analogy to their behavior and Obama’s.

strictnein on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Obama reduced to gibberish talking points from the MSMedia.

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times? haahahahahahaha

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Moderate – read, flat line – support for Obama among the undecided vote tracker on CNN.

Romney looks hungry — Governor, tear in to him!

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Then why arent your plans working???

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Mitt….keep that grin going on while the moron LIES!!!!!

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Obama needs some TOTUS in the worst way.

pianomomma on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Just call him a liar, Mitt.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

He kinda did, indirectly…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Oh, Barky already cracking there, just a little… Didn’t like being called a liar.

Gingotts on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Romney does need to explain where the money is coming from.

sharrukin on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Mark1971 on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Mitt sounding real good but you know the lsm will say obama killed mitt

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

ROTFLMAO… Romney called Obama a liar… (I have 5 boys, I’m used to having people telling me things that just aren’t true and hoping that if they repeat it enough time I’ll start believing it)…

SWalker on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Keep praying.

I can’t watch, pickin up yung uns from youth group.

Reading the blow by blows here guys…..keep it coming.

PappyD61 on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

I’m already drunk. Obama has already mentioned his “inheritance” three times.

riverrat10k on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Soetero sounds irritated.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

WoW… How fair for PBS… Gov. talk about what I want u to talk about… President… Do u challenge or what do u want to talk about… Don’t make PBS tag in to help u President… BS…

Y314K on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Obama is waaay out of his league.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

+1000

This was seen 3 minutes into this debate..

Obama is a lightweight….

And a tragedy..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Maff is hard – BO

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Obama on defensive

Strike Twice on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Scooter’s in trouble. Axlerod couldn’t get any dirt on Mitt.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Romney is doing 10 times better than I foresaw.

TXUS on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

High tax rates! Yes, I lowered taxes, but I want to raise taxes.
Insanity.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

I’m a small business owner, and under Obama I am lucky to still be in business and holding on by my fingernails.

Hening on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Hey Barkey, how about breakin’ out the “let’s spread the wealth around”!!!!!!!

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Oh, Barry’s going prissy face! Love it- I always enjoy angry Barry.

BettyRuth on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Studies! Romney HAMMERS Obama…

You cite a study… there are six other studies out there that say you’re wrong!

They weren’t even going to let Romney speak and now their letting Obama rebut and ramble on… gee…

its math? Seriously Obama? Romney never said he wanted to set those savings while cutting taxes for millionaires… you class warfare hack!

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Just call him a liar, Mitt.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

He kinda did, indirectly…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

To be that blunt is racist.
/

CW on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

That deficit ain’t gettin’ lowered Obama with all yer spendin’.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

romney not explaining loopholes good enough! He blew it!

davemason2k on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

OMG HOTAIR – UPGRADE YOUR COMMENT FEATURE.. I hate it

rgrovr on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Why does Obama just get to make up his own statistics?

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

So now Obama’s newest plan is for another dotcom bubble?

DaSaintFan on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Your tax plan Obama???? YOu didn’t cut any taxes! you just extended Bush’s tax rates…freaking liar

sadsushi on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Obama keeps talking about going back to Clinton tax rates, he’s been president for 4 years, y didnt you do it?!

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

when did he encourage small business? Was it the regulation or the Health Care debacle?

john1schn on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Miit just got under Bark’s skin with the comment about having 5 sons who told him tales expecting him to believe what they were saying.

Heh…… message sent.

Cody1991 on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Someone needs to tell Obie about the rule of holes..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

That was Newt Gingrich’s doing, Mr President

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Stutter Stutter Stutter

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Mists of Pandaria can definitely wait, this is pure gold.

nobar on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

It’s math….math is hard!!! LOLOLOLOLOL

Thank you Lord, you have answered America’s prayers! Let O be O!

texgal on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Obama lowered middle class taxes by putting them in a lower tax bracket.

MechanicalBill on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Barky…I’ll be like Bill Clinton cuz I don’t know what I’m doin?

workingclass artist on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Uuuuuuuuuuuh…..aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnd

gopsteve on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Mark1971 on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Yes, it really is that good! :-)

IrishEi on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

millionaire and billionaires

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Mitt is spending way too much time talking about not reducing any taxes that will raise the deficit. Not smart.

But his point on small businesses paying the top tax rates was excellent.

tom on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Uh, eh, uh.
What an assbag.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Barry has the same look on his face that he had when Hillary beat him in the primaries. He was one pi$$ed off dude.

Here comes the class warfare! Donald Trump!

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Attacking Trump? Really?

KingGold on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Millionaires and billionaires…JugNuts!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Obama keeps pausing trying to remember his talking points. Our teleprompter president is not doing well…

UncleFodder on October 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM

The King is flailing.

JPeterman on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

One man’s loopholes is one man’s deduction.

CW on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Tomorrow’s media narrative: Zero was “sick.” He had “a fever.” First Lady was “very worried” about his health. He’s “been fighting off a virus.” Blah, blah, blah.

Rational Thought on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Bye bye barky. Mitt is on his game with two more to go.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

I say let Barry talk and talk and talk and talk and talk.

He is hanging himself. WHAT THE HELP IS HE SAYING.

stenwin77 on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Millionaires and Billionaires..

On the record…
Obama has called you out..

That includes my boss.

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Mitt is fighting for America. Everyone donate later

beatcanvas on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

keeps harping on the same things…NOTHING NEW

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Donald Trump is a small business?!

Ugly on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Donald Trump IS A SMALL BUSINESS!!!!!! OMG! Foot, here is mouth, insert…..

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Zero just said ‘small bizz’ are all million/billionares !!

pambi on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Let Obama keep yapping Middle class–poll today shows Mitt up by 16…

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Obama sounds inauthentic.

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Donald Trump is small business?

bwawawahahawawaha

Oh, my sides hurt. He’s in a hole.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Obama 8:53
Mitt 6:53

speaking time

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

I love how Obama tries to school people on small businesses and growth. The only thing he’s ever created is a spliff.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

its always zero sum with stupid liberals.

Coolidge_Conservative on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Going to be a Looooong night,of Fact Checky me thinks!!

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Is it me or is Obama bombing?

tbrickert on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

I N V E S T!…JugNuts!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

bammie’s coming off snarky….just stay cool mitt…..he won’t make 2 hours.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

love the red tie blue tie meme! Hah!

eyesky on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Obama is complaining about blowing up the deficit. LMAO

Ronnie on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

holy smoke….am I seeing this?…

:)

Handel on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Un biased moderator? Nah.

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Obamanure trying to raise the spectre of his birth certificate via Trump mention.

Western_Civ on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Oh noes! Barry is carping about blowing up the deficit. Unbelievable.

Mitt is ready to go.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

So, Obama is concerned about “blowing up our deficit”?

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Its fun isn’t it!!!!!

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

“It’s fun, isn’t it?”

Romney’s DESTROYING Obama, and he knows it.

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Trump is a small business?

cw10036 on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Where are the trolls?

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Who’s the audience?

Anyone know?

sharrukin on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

PBS: Let Obama win this one.. Come one…

Y314K on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

GO ROMNEY!!! Hammered him on small businesses on the individual rates!

dominigan on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Trump is small business? ROFL Good grief. B.O. is just rambling, trying to confuse the issue.

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Comment pages: 1 8 9 10 11 12 46