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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“Trickle Down Government”

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Trickle down government, nice!

WisCon on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

mitt sounds good….

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Mitt’s answer:

1) Energy independence
2) Crackdown on China
3) Balanced Budget
4) Champion small business
5) Tax cuts

Woooooosh… that old tracker is RIGHT at the top with Mitt’s speaking.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

“trickle down government”

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Good answer, Mitt!

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Mitt 1

Obumbler 0

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

I don’t know if I can stomach this. Should I or watch Survivor on my dvr?

karenhasfreedom on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Trickle Down Government!

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Good answer Romney!..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Trickle down government … ouch!

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Uh, I , I…

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

400 comments in less than an hour! I’m impressed!

22044 on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Trickle down government, good line

TXUS on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

…oh gawd…I gotta pee!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:06 PM

are the eyes watering? SIT DOWN! :)

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Romney bringing the heat!

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

“Trickle down government”

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

trickle down

improve the education system

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Answer the question stupid!

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Good opening for Mitt.

BoxHead1 on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Lehrer is not gonna make it 90 minutes

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Is Jim Lehrer drunk?

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

sheesh I can’t type that fast!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Mitt’s in control. Specifics vs blather. Great opening statement.

Basilsbest on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Obama’s not countering the “trickle-down government” crack.

KingGold on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

OMG, Romney just destroyed!

nitzsche on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

I agree..Obie didn’t say nothing..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:07 PM

Yep..

You can tell Obama is spewing ad speeches..

Obama is doing it once again..right now.

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

The Empty Suit has definitely shown up tonight. There’s no one there.

MustLoveBlogs on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

respond to trickle down and goes with education, WTF???

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Not answering the question,BARRY.

stenwin77 on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Can someone get Lehrer a hot water bottle and a suppository, pleasee.

Western_Civ on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Zero is the cool kid douchebag who give the shitty student council speech because he knows the junior class doesn’t vote on “the issues.”

Rational Thought on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

so much for explaining “trickle down”!

mwdiet on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

cane_loader on October 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM

http://www.therightscoop.com/obama-vs-romney-presidential-debate-open-thread/

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Mittens open salvo,nice!

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Moderator: Mr. President, please respond to Mr. Romney specifically.
Obama: Nope. Let’s talk about education.
Moderator: I’m good with that.

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Race to the top aint got jack to do with jobs

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

hire more teachers!!!!

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Obamas Socialisim Speil,on Patriotism sumpin…..

canopfor
on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

.
Exactly.

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

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

Mark1971 on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 PM

He’s going to throw in crowd surfing lessons to anyone who will listen to him.

ccrosby on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Improve our education system is going to create immediate jobs? Right.

TXUS on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Trained for what jobs O?

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Respond to what Mitt said…OK…”We need to invest in education.”

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Obama is a new species… the Platitude Duck!

He babbles platitudes in between stuttering.

Now he’s even got the moderator stuttering.

aaaaand… yeah… draw out those linking words to give yourself time to remember the next platitude or buzz phrase. Uhhhhh…

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

new teachers…..you can’t pay the current teachers.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

…oh gawd…I gotta pee!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:06 PM

told you to do that before we left

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

(:->)

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Lehrer: Respond directly to what Governor Romney said

Obama: Meh, I’ll just avoid that question and blab about something else.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

ECONOMIC PATRIOTISM ! ?

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:07 PM

That’s his latest crap meme or something…it’s the fourth time I heard that…he coined it on the campaign trail and ran with it since…of course it doesn’t mean anything…same like growing the economy from the middle out :)….

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

I hope Romney asks BHO if they got the bullet out?

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Crush him Mitt.

Pleeeeeeeze.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Wish I was there so I could yell “YOU LIE”.

Barred on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Lehrer helping Obama out here.

What good does education do to create jobs? stimulate economy? education bubble anyone?
who pays for this? Taxpayers and we’re taxed out.

And their goes Obama explaining the “trickle down government” approach. haha. he doesn’t realize that it’s a BAD thing.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

O…… *yawn* SSDD krap…..go O! heh….we all know the MSM is going to say how the O won, right? *spit*

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

The first time I’ve heard Romney describe one of his #-point plans quickly and succinctly. Good start.

Gingotts on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Scooter’s speaking. Everybody raise your arms. Save your watches. Too late for your shoes.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Great opening by Mitt!!

stuckinwisconsin on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

keep tuition low? explain the 25% increase in the last 4 years.

Coolidge_Conservative on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Obama phoning it in!

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

I don’t know if I can stomach this. Should I or watch Survivor on my dvr?

karenhasfreedom on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Hang out & read the comments! That’s what I’m doing. :)

22044 on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Obama is out of his league here, he doesn’t know wtf he’s talking about.

WisCon on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

How will Obama lower tuition?

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

this

he’s going by the rule…ignore the moderator and just talk what you want…

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

More bad teachers.
Great.
Same tired ideas. Stupidity.
Solyndra 2.0
You could have lowered the tax rate in the first 2 years and now.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Shiping jobs oversees??? Obama???

Why would that be…?

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Keep TUITON low????

Since when has TUITION been low?
It has skyrocketed under Obama since he took over the
College Loan program. Not to mention skyrocketing college loan defaults.

Varchild on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

did he just say oil?

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Obama is still stuttering, not adding anything to debate, trying to say he likes Romney’s ideas in some areas

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Let’s see……if I “drink” every time Obama says “aaaaaaannnnd”, I’ll be drunk in about another ten minutes.

Rovin on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Solyndra

workingclass artist on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Mitt very relaxed.
Obama looking for his prompter.

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Obama sounds like the kid who crammed for his Speech 101 final exam.
Uh…

Ronnie on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

More money for teachers? as if that’s what we need.

rgrovr on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

If we are going to save this economy we NEED MORE FIREMANZ!!

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Boost Oil production? Right O

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Oh yeah, he is such a bipartisan effing dictator who works around the congress to bribe idiots

burrata on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Obie is using code for giving the Teachers Unions a raise..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

I hope Romney asks BHO if they got the bullet out?

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Lool :)

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Lehrer is in on the drinking game. I see a flask in his jacket. He’s wasted.

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

OMG he is such a LIAR !!!

SOLYNDRA

stenwin77 on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Ugh. I see Obama trotted out the ol’ Southern accent attempt for a second there.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

more investments in solar and wind

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Wind!!!!!

Solar!!!!!

Bio!!!!

F-!!!!!

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Obama is a liar.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Anyone else get the impression that Obama is treading on ice here? He doesn’t sound substantive and confidant. It’s just empty rhetoric.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

0 wants to pump money into education, and yet keep tuition low.

A sign of economic illiteracy…

JohnGalt23 on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

I am loving this. Obama knows that he is beat. This is amazing. The narcissist is feeling a bit on the down low self esteem.

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

the yellow womens line is at the max when obama is speaking. must be he’s tuned into their lady parts

renalin on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

he sure is talking fast….

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

SOLYNDRA.
SOLYNDRA/
FIVE TRILLION.
DEFICIT>
REDUCE SPENDING>
THIS MAN IS INSANE.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Trickle Down Government, NICE

jp on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Barry’s solutions require hiring public employees: teachers, trainers, yadda yadda. Where is the money coming from for all of these teachers? Us of course, and they will be union employees, natch.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Trickle down government. Let Mitt attackon Solyndra in response to solar power push.

talkingpoints on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

The energy source of the future–burning Obama phones!

Western_Civ on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

“Oil and natural gas production is higher than they’ve been in years”

No.

The PRICE of gasoline and barrels of crude are higher than they’ve been in years.

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Obama: “Governor Romney and I agree…” blah blah blah. “Governor Romney and I also agree…” blah blah.

This could be very easy. Everybody – Barry included – just vote for Mitt and we could end this disaster of an administration.

Gingotts on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Stuck on Education,that won`t show results for,like how many years!

So Tiution=JOBS….Awesome!!

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Why does Obama get away with talking like he has not been the president for the last four years?!

gopsteve on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

JugEars..
I N V E S T M E N T S…!!!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Hammer time MITT–fire!

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

OBAMA: “UH” “UH” “UH”

Varchild on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

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