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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COAL B*TCHES!

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Lovin Mitt right now!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

In the opening remarks Mitt looks at the camera (us).
Barry looks at Mr. Lehrer.

Yeah.

eyesky on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

dear leader……”sniff….I don’t know what to do/say without my teleprompter or my mooch” *sniff*

ROMNEY IS KICKING BUTTEEEEEEEEE! and JL is not cutting in??????

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Team Obama plans MILITARY CUTS………..

Nice Lie!!!

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

So far Mitt is rocking it..

wolly4321 on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Ouch. This is going to leave a mark.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

I was napping before this started and actually dreamed I told a stranger in a restaurant that my lady parts are telling me to vote for Romney – the lady part that is my dream. How weird is that?

karenhasfreedom on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

no tax cut that will add to the deficit

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Uh oh, tightening of the lips and jaw of B.O. Good job Romney!! He’s on a roll!!

bluefox on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Boom taste my keystone night stick!

MontanaMmmm on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

GO MITT GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Obama looks like a child being scolded

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Mitt came loaded for bear. Calling Barry out on his lies about energy development.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Wait for O to talk about ROI

Eleven on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

“No tax cut that adds to the deficit”.

Good stuff. And Mitt is 100% focused on the middle class piece.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Liar barack. Go Mitt!

MustLoveBlogs on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Obama is all about the not accurate

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Obama looks tired to me. Wish he had said “ill quote joe biden” before he said middle income families have been crushed. Mention Obamas tax hikes! Good points on energy but he should tie energy independence to national security.

ldbgcoleman on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Damn…. Romney is doing really good so far.

brewcrew67 on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

If you see Lanceman tell em I said “Hey”

SparkPlug on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Say hey to Scrumpy for me.

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

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

He’s pouting and “smirking”… you know he’s been hit when he does the smirk in particular..

DaSaintFan on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Mitt just hit a home run Most oil & gas exploration is on Private not federal also known here as feral.

jrsrigmvr on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

O you LIE

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Stupid little smile on SCOAMF’s face when getting hammered on energy policy… Something occur to him or was he just thinking about candy bars without Moochelle’s knowledge?

Gingotts on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

MITT ROMNEY IS ON FIRE!!!!!

Varchild on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

OOOH! Look at O’s face! He is loosing it. UH,UUUH, UH!

texgal on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Yeah, Mitt! Show Obama who is boss!b

GW_SS-Delta on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

we cut taxes, yes we did

NOT

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

SCHWING!

beatcanvas on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

BHO: Where’s my totus..?

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM

…Lord Lord Lord watch him please!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

the won is not:) doing well…….THANK YOU LORD!

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Mitt is killing him. Dare I feel hope?

johnboy on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Did anyone hear I Candy stammer when he started talking about his tax cuts. It begins.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

How many uh’s? More than 50?

22044 on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

To none from Romney. lol

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

BullShitt Obama..
You didn’t cut taxes..

ObamaCare!!!!!

Romney better respond to this

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Romney looking real strong…

JohnGalt23 on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Mitt just took his Class warfare argument away.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Where’s Lester?

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Fester who??

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Yes Mitt!!!!!
Go after Obama’s bogus energy plan.
Tearing him UP!!!
Look at barry’s face!

Starting to stutter–BO is in trouble.

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

He cut taxes for middle class families? That’s news to me. Wasn’t Obamacare the largest tax increase in history?

Vegi on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

How the frig do you buy a new car with that little itty bitty tax cut?

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

buy a new car?????

oh my

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Cash for Suckers.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

So far, so good.

rndmusrnm on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

FFS Mitt.. Tax Cuts don’t add to the Deficit period. It isn’t the Government’s money that is owed, its the People’s money.

rgrovr on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Obama is dialing it in, he knows the media will carry his water

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

“Four years ago when I stood on this stage..” McMomJeansSandTrap

Lol, what an idiot.

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Barkey is about to drop the “Harry Reid told me that somebody told him Mitt didn’t pay his taxes!!!!”

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Mitt’s doing great!

dukecitygirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

JL is doing a good job so far.

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Good God, nothing but Obama ad reduxes…

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Is Romney going to let this $hit get away with saying he gave the people a tax cut?

Western_Civ on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

The DIRe will never betray you

SparkPlug on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Wait, folks, are Obama’s tax cuts that much that you actually can buy a new car? LOL

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Hey there Lanceman…. I said Hi way back!! this thread is movin’!!

Hope you are well :-)

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Darn it, Mitt won’t cut taxes on the upper income people. : (

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

New car for $3600? He’s chooming

Hening on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

What tax cuts? Are those the welfare recast as refundable tax credits?

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Drink!!..More Platitudes by Obie..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

WOW!!! ROMNEY IS ROCKING IT SO FAR!!!

brewcrew67 on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Wow…Romney came out swinging hard…

SWalker on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

obama is lying and even the cnn fact checker called it a lie

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Wow, Obama. I didn’t know we were doing so well. Awesome.

Curtiss on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Romney is Tony Stark! Iron Man!

nitzsche on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

What Obama tax cut?

flyfisher on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

This is not gonna be a fair fight. I think Obama won’t make it 30 minutes.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

“By the way… I like coal… I want to burn clean coal!” Romney

Yes! China is burning all they can get, including importing ours… the atmosphere is truly global!Air pollution doesn’t recognize international boundaries or borders.

thatsafactjack on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Obama is stepping on his….

..oh wait…

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Mittens salvo,just took some paint off Hopeys bow!!

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Flat-lined

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Mitt should say…”Mr. Obama have you even read my plan?”

workingclass artist on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

someone want to tell me were my $3400 went

tbrickert on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Mitt prepared….yeahaww

MontanaMmmm on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

$3600 tax cuts? REally?
It was like $14 a pay check.
Bush Tax Cuts cut taxes.
You could have closed the loopholes, you blowhole.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Uhhh, uhhh, ahh, s-whistle…

OmahaConservative on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

COAL. WAR ON COAL.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama’s filibustering…

changer1701 on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Here is the important point…hahahahaha

texgal on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Romney has won this first part. I’m very impressed.

Tharn on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

JugEars?

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Romney on fire, Obama still stumbling and stammering.

TXUS on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

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

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Government supplied Depends for Trolls, now there’s an entitlement libs can live with.

Rovin on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

OBAMA *Whining* about $2 Trillion dollar increase on military.

Meanwhile Obama is invoking Sequestration on the Military risking hundreds of thousands of layoffs.

Varchild on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

the won has been campaigning and playin with da beyonce, et al too much…..tired azz moron…..:):):):):)

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

“my name is Barack Obama, and I waste time jabbering about nothing”

BettyRuth on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Let him talk, Jim. He’s channeling Biden.

Ronnie on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

he won’t look at Mitt, but Mitt has NO PROBLEM looking at dear leader

GOOD

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

and how u gonna pay off your $5 trillion incr in deficit? Kick below belt NOW Mitt…

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama talking to “Jim.”

Mitt, counter that by talking to the people.

Gingotts on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

BLAH, BLAH,BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

He can’t shut up.

stenwin77 on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama is getting his bottom whooped

Hening on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama: Do we want to reduce, or increase, the deficit. This stuff is hard.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Ramble Ramble Ramble
I almost feel sorry for him, NOT!

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Yeah, the middle class is doing just fine. Liar-liar-pants-on-fire.

Thank goodness for those WH “fact checkers.” Whew.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Like the format so far.

TXUS on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Jim Lehrer needs to take charge…

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

SparkPlug on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Good evening..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

LOL

BO always brings out independent economists

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Comment pages: 1 6 7 8 9 10 46