The town hall debate will favor Obama
posted at 11:32 am on October 16, 2012 by Matt Vespa
Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center penned an analysis today, which detailed how liberal questions are favored in such debates by a 2-to-1 margin. The MRC has analyzed every townhall style debate since it debuted twenty years ago. Noyes wrote that:
In the 1992 Bush-Clinton-Perot debate in Richmond, we scored eight audience questions as straightforward requests for information, four liberal questions, and no conservative questions. One participant that year described the election as about choosing a father who would take care of citizens, whom he referred to as “children.”
The focus of my work as a domestic mediator is meeting the needs of the children that I work with, by way of their parents, and not the wants of their parents. And I ask the three of you, how can we, as symbolically the children of the future president, expect the two of you, the three of you to meet our needs, the needs in housing and in crime and you name it, as opposed to the wants of your political spin doctors and your political parties?
Four years later, we tallied ten questions as straightforward, five as conveying a liberal agenda, and three as conservative. That year, one voter asked Bill Clinton whether he had “plans to expand the Family Leave Act,” while another insisted during a discussion of health care that “the private sector is a problem.”
In 2000, moderator Jim Lehrer favored liberal questions by an 8-to-2 margin over conservative questions. Examples from that debate: One voter asked George W. Bush and Al Gore: “Would you be open to the ideal of a national health care plan for everybody?” while another targeted Bush:
We’d like to know why you object to the Brady handgun bill, if you do object to it. Because in a recent TV ad, it showed that the [NRA] says if you are elected that they will be working out of your office…actually, that kind of bothers me.
However, there is one notable exception Noyes detailed, which is that Charles Gibson was able to strike a balance in the debate during the 2004 presidential election. He mentioned a question addressed to Democratic candidate John Kerry about health care where the participant asked “you’ve stated your concern for the rising cost of health care, yet you chose a vice presidential candidate [Sen. John Edwards] who has made millions of dollars successfully suing medical professionals. How do you reconcile this with the voters?”
Hence, it is possible, according to Noyes, for “a moderator… to ensure an ideologically balanced discussion of the issues — to serve all of the potential voters who might be watching. It’s up to Crowley to determine whether the candidates will face equally tough questioning, or whether the liberal Barack Obama will face a friendlier agenda than Mitt Romney.”
Will Obama blow it? Will Mitt Romney’s surge in the polls become a temporary phenomena? We shall see in tonight’s debate, but we should’t be counting on a replay for a Gibson-style town hall debate. Crowley described the Romney/Ryan ticket as a “death wish” back in August. Even if Obama does slightly better, and that’s saying something after his flaccid performance on October 3, then it will be construed as a victory for the president. Romney needs to have another decisive win tonight. And given his performance in the last debate – with the litany of facts detailing the failure of the Obama administration – I’m confident he’ll succeed, regardless of the probable drivel that’ll be hurled at him tonight.