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 7 8 9 10 11 46

Quick check, that 5 trillion dollar figure? No one knows where Barack is getting it.

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Romney is killin it.

tdpwells on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

This is gonna be good…..

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

The DIRe will never betray you

SparkPlug on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

I saw you sneak that in..:)

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

3 minute flat line for Obama

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama isn’t saying anything.

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

YOU LIE!

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

shut up JL! Get em Mitt!!!!!!!!!

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama has that sick look he gets when someone asks a tough question.

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

So Obama wants to hire 100,000 teachers… a function of local government not the federal government. I want the federal government to hire zero teachers.

Dasher on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama: “If you close all the loopholes, you can’t pay for Romney’s plan.”

Romney: “If you take every dollar from the rich, you can’t close the deficit.”

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Go Mitt! Call out Liar in Chief.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Obama’s getting crushed!!!

idesign on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 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

Of course.

Watching Apollo 13.

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

BHO is stumbumbling.

tru2tx on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

There you go Mitt! talk the talk!!

O Lied again!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Is that his bundler’s study?

Cindy Munford on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Just call him a liar, Mitt.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

That’s two times Lehrer has allowed Obama to respond without giving Mitt an opportunity to respond.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

good for mitt

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Independent economists from my campaign…

Y314K on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

bammie is PISSED.

Tim_CA on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Here’s what I wish: when Obama said “2T for military and a 5T tax cut is 8T of new spending”, that Romney would have said “Mr. President, your math is off, you’re lieing and you should be retired”.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

New car for $3600? He’s chooming

Hening on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

.
That’s what they cost before his “chooming” days.

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Mitt showing serious cajones – FINALLY!

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

WHAM!! BLAMO!! SMACK!! KAPOW!!! YEAH OBOMAO…TAKE THAT!!

royzer on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

…good Mitt…don’t take the tax sh!t…fluke Jim!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Mitt calls out Barry on his lies!

JPeterman on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

O Looks sick!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Obama isn’t saying anything.

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Sure his is..

It’s just 4.5 years old.

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

the won…….SUCK IT!

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Any doubt now why Obama wouldnt show his grades ??????????

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Super: Mitt talks Lehrer into shutting up and corrects Obama.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 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

Of course we did, and rejoices :)…….candy ass more appropriate though…

jimver on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

ZING!!!!!

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Obama is stepping on his….

..oh wait…

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

It’s in Mooch’s manpurse.

HornetSting on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Mitt just called Obama a child!!!!

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Nice Romney..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

5 boys line…wow!

Jackalope on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Quick check, that 5 trillion dollar figure? No one knows where Barack is getting it.

Zaggs on October 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Same place they got the $18k birth control figure – straight out of their rectum.

tdpwells on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Good for Mitt on talking over the biased moderator to get his point across.

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

YES !! Mitt challenging what O said as untrue !! YES !!

pambi on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Romney is just destroying him!

WisCon on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Great Mitt!

Strike Twice on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

‘I will not reduce the share paid by high income individuals.’

‘I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.’

WTF?

avgjo on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Obummer is getting miffed. Whoo! He’s used to slobbering sychophants, not intelligent dissent. Love.

Philly on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Oh sh!t. He’s like his boys. Put a fork in barry.

Ronnie on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

as a conservative I deplore the middle income meme!!!!

1nolibgal on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt, you friggin rock!

eyesky on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Back to the Filthy Rich….

canopfor on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

obamas starting to look angry

renalin on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Obama wishes this was 2008, when McCain defeated himself in the debates.

wargamer6 on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

O-o-o-o. Nice use of humor to slam the hammer on Obama’s lie. I LIKE this Mitt.

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

HA!
there are 6 other studies that say your study is wrong

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Cooler than cool!!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Whoa — you should see the undecided voter tracker. They LOVE what Mitt is saying.

Republican on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Obama is up against the freakin’ ropes. This is awesome!!!

IrishEi on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Holy crap this thread is moving fast. Here’s the drinking game I’m following:

http://i.imgur.com/GMyFS.jpg

mythicknight on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt calling Barry a liar.

Kataklysmic on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Absolutely excellent performance by Romney thus far. He’s not letting Obama’s lie sit and sink in…..he forcefully corrects his BS. Very encouraging.

UpTheCreek on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Barky got a smirky…

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

BHO looks like Jimmy Carter did in 1980.

tru2tx on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt fantastic!!!!

bailey24 on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

WHOOOOOOOOOOO0 MITT IS KICKIN SOME O BUTTEEEEEEE! Dang, I need a refill! *clink*

sicoit on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Barkey getting ready to change the subject to “LADY PARTS”…

Strike Hornet on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Go Mitt! Obama is toast!

tinkerthinker on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Nice line about his sons.

It diminishes Obama.

Good, he finally called BS on “Obama’s study.”

BuckeyeSam on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Romney is seriously swinging for the fences.

“Let’s get to the bottom line.”

Romney the business man is going to eat Obama the agitator’s lunch.

Washington Nearsider on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Take it to him Mitt!!

royzer on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt is giving business 101 instruction to the adolescent Barky

workingclass artist on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Keep on correcting the Louse in da House!!

Scrumpy on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Obama is waaay out of his league.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

OH Snap: Saying it as is about small businesses.

nobar on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt is doing great! I love the 5 boys bit, Barky had to actually look at him on that one.

I’m feeling good so far…

ccrosby on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Who is this guy who looks like Mitt? I like him better!

gopsteve on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Romney looks like a CEO, a knowledgeable CEO.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Anyone get the feeling that Romney is teaching Obama how business works?

conservative pilgrim on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

FLUKING A MITT!!!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Romney laying out specifics…

JohnGalt23 on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Totus, totus, totus….where are you?

d1carter on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt takes Barry to school.

Curtiss on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

tax rates is about jobs! nice.

Coolidge_Conservative on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt is doing really well, doing an extraordinary job explaining the what and why

El_Terrible on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Just call him a liar, Mitt.

kingsjester on October 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I would prefer if he coughed or sneezed “SCOAMF! SCOAMF!”

Lanceman on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

WOW! Romney is on!

Tharn on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Look at that voter line baby!!!!

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Mitt’s killing him.

Basilsbest on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Romney is awesome!

RedRedRice on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Romney is kicking O’s skinny a$$ all over the stage. I’m surprised.

BoxHead1 on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Wow. He just called Obama out for being the child he is.

cptacek on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM

dear leader has no response…

cmsinaz on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

18 months..Obama???

We have 4 years of you….!!!!

F-

Electrongod on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

I’m not watching. I hope what you guys are describing is really true. From these comments I half expect a ref to step in and stop the debate and lift Romney’s hand in the air.

Mark1971 on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

condescending a hole..

hillsoftx on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Is Obama on drugs?

Dasher on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

HOLY SMOKES

gophergirl on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Obama thinking about the 9th hole while Mitt talks words he does not understand.

*Note: The ninth hole is Reggie Love’s.

the new aesthetic on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

MITT . . . tell them when taxes go DOWN, revenues go UP.

listens2glenn on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Obie lied..:)

Dire Straits on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

My God. Obama is flat lining again

faraway on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Comment pages: 1 7 8 9 10 11 46