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 5 6 7 8 9 46

He wants to talk trillions????? Really??????????

texgal on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Obama has already failed at this debate..

Pack it up..

Sandra Fluck… wrap it…

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Obama is rambling.

karenhasfreedom on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

HEY!!!! What about contraception??????? You know, the thing womeziz REALLY care about!!!!

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

ATTACK OF THE EMPTY TALKING POINTS AND PLATITUDES!!! FUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

I would be more nervous than I am, except I know that Romney is very practiced and quite good at this sort of thing.

Alana on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

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

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

He always looks/sounds drunk to me…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

My lady parts are NOT impressed, Barry.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

The military hasn’t asked for? WT? They’re trying to deal with ALL the cuts Obama has done right now. He’s cut the military in HALF. What a freaking liar.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

I can’t stand to watch the POSOTUS, so I’ll keep track of the debate through this thread, if you nice people don’t mind.

Moose Drool on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

My favorite saying: save the watches….the boots are gone! :)

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Bite back hard Romney

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Romney is looking calm and collected.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

BAM.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Romney calling Obama out on his lies!

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Lehrer is showing his age. Still the best of the lefties lined up to moderate these though.

Gingotts on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

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

Barred on October 3, 2012 at 9:09 PM

I would yell “YOU LIE, BOY!”

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

BURIED. NICE!

Ronnie on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Hit him Mitt!

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

i hear a 47% coming soon

BURIED

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Good Lord, Obama says NOTHING! He rambles about nothing!

BettyRuth on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Sic ‘im, Mitt!

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

“Middle income Americans have been buried.”

Thanks, Joe!!

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

LOL

middle class being buried — Mitt uses Biden’s quote

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Buried! Ha Ha

Eleven on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

The undecided vote tracker is liking what Mitt’s selling. Go Mitt, go, go, go!

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Obama accusing Romney of fiscal irresponsibility. That’s rich.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 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

And all of this is happening on the 20th anniversary of him and his beard. lol

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Go Mitt! He’s doing a great job, and barack can’t handle it.

MustLoveBlogs on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Did I just hear Romney say he won’t cut taxes for the rich?

avgjo on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Mention Solyndra, Mitt, to counter the investment in solar.

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Middle income citizens are BURIED. Props to Slow Joe right there.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Buried. Awesome. The economy tax. Awesome.

talkingpoints on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

he;s looking at dear leader and he won’t look at him…

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Obama can’t say anything about what Romney is saying right know..

Obama..

Walk out…now..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

This is going beautifully. The trolls are going to be peeing themselves.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

My lady parts are NOT impressed, Barry.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

*drink!*

Fallon on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

The Obama Economy Tax. I like it.

Curtiss on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

ATTACK OF THE EMPTY TALKING POINTS AND PLATITUDES!!! FUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Yipee!!!! ***blows kazoo***

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Obie’s not even acknowledging Mitt.

tru2tx on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

thats right, as Biden said the Middle Class has been crushed under Obama

jp on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Obama doesn’t understand the term revenue neutral…maff is hard when you are an affirmative action hire. They must not cover that in community organizer school.

Mormon Doc on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

My lady parts are NOT impressed, Barry.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

saw that krap too…..pfffftttttt! :PPPPPPPPP

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Zero promoting tax cuts/breaks ?

BUWAHAHAHAHA

pambi on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh no,

Hopey is still stuck in 2008!!

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

ooh.. the “economy tax”! Nice label there by mitt!

DaSaintFan on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

When RINOs attack!!!!

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

I wrote it 3 pages ago…Romney already won! Where’s the trolls, now?

texgal on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

OMG Romney is our next President!

nitzsche on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Good Romney!! I see B.O. is aggravated by what Romney is saying,LOL

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

sounds real good

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Middle income families are being crushed. HAHAHA Mitt is channeling the Biden. Mitt off to an early start.

MrX on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

If only people paid Federal Taxes, then the Federal Government would have a vested interest in doing what it takes to get more people back to work !

ABOLISH FEDERAL TAXES ON CORPORATIONS !

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

ABRS heads to exploxe in 3…2…1…

nobar on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

look at li’l bammies body language….he hates this.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Oh yeah! Mitt rocks it!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Time to kick Barry in the nuts, can we just get that out of the way early?

Western_Civ on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

FAIR SHARE!!!111!!!!
/

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Mitt……Middle class being crushed.

Joe Biden dig?

JPeterman on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Romney is coming across very well. He sounds like an adult with facts and command of the issues.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Obama nods like he has a clue about job creation.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Good on Mitt for mentioning gas prices doubling under Barry.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:10 PM

LoLz..Hello!..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Gotta say, Mitt is hitting it out of the park!

IrishEi on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Mitt’s doing well. 47 job programs?!

Jackalope on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Romney is killing it so far. Obama’s head must be spinnning.

WisCon on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

How many uh’s? More than 50?

22044 on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM

If you see Lanceman tell em I said “Hey”

SparkPlug on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Where’s Lester?

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

women going insane for mitt. he feels their lady parts too.

renalin on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Mitt calm and detailed!

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Mitt is Kennedy.
Barack is Nixon.

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Mitt seems nervous .. talking fast.

pambi on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Obama..

Walk out…now..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

That would be the coolest thing ever.

Curtiss on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

The economy is shovel ready

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Good job Mitt. I’m impressed with Mitt for the first time in my adult life.

BoxHead1 on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

private land BAM!

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Obama can’t say anything about what Romney is saying right know..

Obama..

Walk out…now..

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

I wish…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

That’s a racist dog whistle!

wargamer6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Jimmy Carter allowed Opec to nail us for crude, too, and HE also wanted to implement wind and solar and all the ‘green energy’ stuff!

People stood in lines for gas and could only buy it, and any price, every other day depending on their license plate number.

yeah… there’s a sound energy policy to keep us competitive globally!

Obama is Carter’s second term!

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

IN SPITE of his policies….ZING!

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

i am LOVING this Mitt. GREAT monologue.

Coolidge_Conservative on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Ruh-roh. Mr. Grumpy Pants is pouting already. We aren’t even ten minutes into the debate.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

“In spite of the President’s policies”

BAZINGA!

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Hit him on Solyndra.
Very nice on oil and gas!!!! PRIVATE LAND!!!!

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Good for Romney!!

Coal

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Mitt’s on fire. He has complete command of the facts.

Basilsbest on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

M I T T
good so far!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

I like coal

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Romney to Obama: You Lie!

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Romney sounds strong.

Oh Hornet Sting – SkinnyGirl Margarita is very good.

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Good information on energy, Mitt.

There’s a mile difference between them.

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Exposing the truth on drillinG!!!!

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

OK, Romney is pretty damned impressive so far

jp on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Obama looking down at his shoes like a scolded child.

Curtiss on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Romney sounds, to me, that he knows what he’s talking about. Smack Obama re energy. Great.
I’ll make another contribution this evening.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

This is better than I expected.

tru2tx on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

renalin on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Something you’ve never done.

wargamer6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

So far Romney is doing rather well.

sharrukin on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Obama just hates it when he has to debate the issues. He hates it even more when his opponent is smarter about it.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Comment pages: 1 5 6 7 8 9 46