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 2 3 4 5 6 46

…LORD HELP US!!!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 8:57 PM

It’s time to see if Romney can kick Obama out of the driver’s seat and steer us out of the ditch..

I am kinda excited to see a path again….
One that was built by Americans.

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

I don’t get C-Span.

cane_loader on October 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Try their online site, that’s where I’m watching it from…

http://www.c-span.org/Live-Video/C-SPAN/

SWalker on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

ALERT: BURNING BUSH SPOTTED

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Glaucoma medicine time!

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

What happens if that gilled idiot shows up?

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 8:54 PM

Filet knife and a frying pan.

predator on October 3, 2012 at 8:57 PM

…if Romney does well…a full length raincoat…ski mask type rubber cap…and boots 7 inches above the knees!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Showtime

txmomof6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Dear God please let the audience see the real Obama.

Dear God don’t let Obama man-hug Mitt.

Dear God give Mitt strength and guidance.

Amen

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Que Sera Sera

Rational Thought on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Crap… tis time

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Drink if Obama says:
Let me be clear
Bain Capital
Millionaires or Billionaires

athenadelphi on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

I’d be done in the first 15 minutes :)

uncommon sense on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

CNN to unleash 3 lions and 2 elephants into the room at the 5 minute mark

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Oh dear. I hate these things. Especially when you know the media has already declared Obama the winner. I will suffer through it with you guys.

Alana on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

chris and bret are wearing the same tie

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 8:51 PM

I was thinking UNBEARABLE.

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 8:54 PM

You are probably more accurate in your assessment :)…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

30 secs

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Any other links to the debate?

C-Span seems overloaded.

sharrukin on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

SH*T……..

OBAMA,ICEBERG DEAD AHEAD………

HARD TO PORT,…………..

STOP WATCHING THE F $%?&*(*&?%$%?&*() VIEW,
and get the F %?&*()_)(*&?%?&*( up to the debate Bridge!

(snark)

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

NBC looks clean. Is CBS cleaner?

cane_loader on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Damn, Damn, Damn! My mother-in-law decided to unexpectedly pop in about an hour ago and now she won’t leeeeeeeeeeave!

Flora Duh on October 3, 2012 at 8:49 PM

Is she a democrat? Turn on Fox News. That should do it. Dems scatter when faced with the light of truth.

Sterling Holobyte on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Drink if Obama says:
Let me be clear
Bain Capital
Millionaires or Billionaires

athenadelphi on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

What???

Oh great…

I gotta make a bear run..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

So who else is convinced that the moderator worked with the Obama campaign to give the questions ahead of time?

runner2300 on October 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Obama camp wrote the questions for the debate

burrata on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Drink if Obama says:
Let me be clear
Bain Capital
Millionaires or Billionaires

athenadelphi on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Better lay off the hard stuff!

22044 on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Sure is quieter on Cspan than Fox

txmomof6 on October 3, 2012 at 8:57 PM

It’s like a wake.

BoxHead1 on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Here we go folks… saddle up.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Fox news reports the audience is evenly divided between romney supporters, obama supporters and UNIVERSITY STUDENTS – which means 2/3rds are Obama supporters and 1/3 are romney supporters. NOT evenly divided.

athenadelphi on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

When Obama claims he saved the auto industry, I hope Romney corrects him by saying, “No, Mr. President, you saved the UAW. Besides, Ford would probably disagree with you.”

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

and we are off!

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Dear God please let the audience see the real Obama.

Dear God don’t let Obama man-hug Mitt.

Dear God give Mitt strength and guidance.

Amen

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

What’s a ‘man-hug?’ Sorry, I’m stupid.

Corporal Tunnel on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Here we go!!..Hello Everyone..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Repeat after me Mitt: The President inherited a bad situation, and he made it worse by focusing on Obamacare for two years. Obamacare has killed the economic recovery, and it will drive the federal deficit ever higher. The President said if you liked your plan you could keep it, he lied. Your premiums are skyrocketing as the federal government drowns insurance companies in regulations and requirements; your health insurance coverage will get worse if this bill is not repealed, and so will the economy.

Lawdawg86 on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

David Brooks observed the crease in Obama’s crib notes and declared Obama the winner of tonight’s debate before it even starts.

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

cane_loader on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

cspan is rock solid

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Will there be any questions about PBS funding..?

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Blood pressure watch: NCIS is on USA for those who…need a diversion.

Rational Thought on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

dobestic issues??

txmomof6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Dang…..just got here, popped the popcorn and getting my drink ready and I guess I’m already late????? *sheesh* Jim L’duh already starting his krap…..ugh *clink* here we go!

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Drink if Obama says:
Let me be clear
Bain Capital
Millionaires or Billionaires

FAIR SHARE!!!!

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Hi Dire!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

I just hope the moderator takes some cues from Univision for the questions

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Two minutes for Obie will be a challenge.

tru2tx on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

jim going soft on obama in 5….4….3

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Buckle up

Conservative4ev on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Teleprompters?

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 8:52 PM

Obama was seen writing on the palm of his hands…

He was also seen squinting at what he wrote..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM

If he’s on teleprompter, may it be in Chinese:-)

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

AND HERE WE GO!!!!! IT’S ON!!!!!!!

BoxHead1 on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

My C-Span won’t come in. Going with NBC. Feed has no damn crawler.

cane_loader on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

First question: Mr. President, why do you think Governor Romney hates Americans?

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Any other links to the debate?

C-Span seems overloaded.

sharrukin on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM

sharrukin:ABC:)
================

http://www.2012presidentialelectionnews.com/

Video: Obama, Romney presidential debate

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Blood pressure watch: NCIS is on USA for those who…need a diversion.

Rational Thought on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

A.L.C.O.H.O.L.
Noise exception? Oh shiite!

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

I can’t believe how nervous I am.

tbrickert on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Punch him romney…set the tone.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

mitt wearing red tie

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

I think I am going to throw up. Time to crack open the skinnygirl

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

you’re annoying and distracting, pal.

envycat on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

BREAKING: ROMNEY HAS BETTER HAIR

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

I wonder if Barkey will talk about his “Lady Parts”…

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Hello!!..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

My friends…

The beginning of the end of the Obama Presidency

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Of COURSE Obama won the coin toss! Gee… who would have guessed? So he gets the first question and Romney is on defense immediately.

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Careful HS here comes a butterfly

(¯`v´¯)
.`·.¸.·´ ???
¸.·´¸.·´¨) ¸.·*¨)
(¸.·´? (¸.·´ .·´ ¸¸.·¨¯`·.?

SparkPlug on October 3, 2012 at 8:32 PM

Thank you, SP.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Dear God.

MontanaMmmm on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

how many Uh Uh Uh Uh in 2 mins?

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Fox news reports the audience is evenly divided between romney supporters, obama supporters and UNIVERSITY STUDENTS – which means 2/3rds are Obama supporters and 1/3 are romney supporters. NOT evenly divided.

athenadelphi on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM

And since they’re “kids” and all, hey won’t be following any decorum. They’ll be hootin’ for Zero and booing Romney. Gee, those cwazy kids.

Rational Thought on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Jobs!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Normally, I’d be playing Mists of Pandaria right now, but this debate is too important to skip. Gulp.

nobar on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

oh great
red tie
blue tie

burrata on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Why do they have a live audience..?

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Did Gary Johnson show up outside the hall to complain about not being included?

Mark1971 on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Economy..
Jobs..

Major differences..

How to create jobs..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

I wonder if the President will be dropping his g’s tonight.

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

NO CHEERS, BOOS, OR HISSES ! ?

Awwwwwww, . . . Jim . . .

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

major differences on creating jobs

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Jobs!

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

STUPID FIRST QUESTION!!!! barf

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Here we go!

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Let’s roll.

wargamer6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

uh uh uh uh uh

envycat on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Pander first.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Obama is the luckiest man on Earth..

Great start..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

ME Drink!!

Varchild on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

wasting his 2 minutes

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Oh good golly

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

http://www.2012presidentialelectionnews.com/

Video: Obama, Romney presidential debate

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Thanks!

sharrukin on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

He siad it!
sweety happy anniversary!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

LOL

stuttering just to say happy anniversary

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Wow, talking about his freakin anniversary…..heh heh says Jim L…..

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Puke sweetie.

MontanaMmmm on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Wow, that sounded hamfisted without the cheering.

KingGold on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

If he’s on teleprompter, may it be in Chinese:-)

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Or lose power in the middle of a sentence :)…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Obama on new jobs: Tax everyone!

wargamer6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

20th anniv..times up!

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

great depression

DRINK

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

YAK! Did he read his hand? NO.. you won’t be celebrating it in front of us… you’ll be at home… in CHICAGO!

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

But hey, he’s not blaming his predecessor

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

SHUT UP!!!!!
SHUT UP
SHUT UP

You will be celebrating it unemployed!

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Here we go..Blame Bush..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Barack is nervous…

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Corporate Tunnel
_________________

Obama man-hugs men so he can look cool.
Shaking hands with one hand hugging with the other as they chest bump.
Looks so stupid.

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Obama wasted 40 seconds on bullshit.

Dave Rywall on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Reagan’s recession was worse.

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 46