September 30, 2004

Who Won the Debate: Polls

CNN:78-18
MSNBC: 70-30
ABC: 45-36
CBS: 43-28
Gallup: 53-37

Posted by DeLong at September 30, 2004 10:34 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Those first two are online polls, Brad -- and as such worthless. (No doubt Fox's online poll is showing very different results.)

But there seems to be an absolute consensus that Kerry DID win -- those last three polls are valid ones; NBC's focus group of 6 undecided Ohio voters all said Kerry won; and Kaus and most of the NRO and Weekly Standard people are grudgingly admitting that they thought Kerry won by an importantly big margin -- Tom Maguire seems to be the exception to the general consensus. Also, one conservative friend of mine (yes,I do have one conservative friend) E-mailed me (without prompting) to say not only that he thought "Kerry kicked ass", but that his much more right-wing lawyer father also thought so. They were both surprised.

So was I. Kerry did exactly what he needed to do to stay in the game -- act like an ordinary but intelligent human being rather than the bizarre robot-cum-weathervane we've all been led to expect at this point. But he also did more than that: he showed a habit of responding to most of the fastballs Bush tried to throw at him by instantly dashing off some inside fact that made him look very much as though he knows far more about the world and government in general than Bush does. I find it impossible to believe that he won't close several points of the gap as a result of this. Bush, meanwhile, ended up stuttering like Porky Pig and making faces like Johnny Carson when a skit goes bad -- and if I hear the phrase "mixed messages" one more time, I'm going to hurl. (Which is what my right-wing friend's righter-wing father also said.)

In this context, Noam Scheiber's comment this afternoon should be remembered: "I don't think the bar for Kerry is that high tonight, despite all the hype to the contrary. Polls consistently show that a majority or plurality of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and that the Iraq war was a mistake. The reason Kerry isn't winning is that Bush has managed to define him as a pathetic, flip-flopping weakling. Which means that as long as Kerry manages to string a few forceful sentences together tonight, voters should pretty quickly see that the real John Kerry bears little resemblance to this ridiculous cartoon, and that Kerry is an acceptable alternative to a man whose administration they deem a failure." Well, he managed to string more than a few of them together. If he can keep this up -- and that is a very big "if" -- we have a race again.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 30, 2004 10:54 PM

Agree with Mr. Moomaw above, except I did not expect a robot weathervane. Kerry is a principled man; there's no evidence otherwise. I'm not sure why people swallowed that silliness in the first place, except that they must want to believe it, on some level. In fact the debate went pretty much the way I imagined.

Also, did you hear? At one point, Bush actually said "mexed missages." Clearly he'd been practicing!

Posted by: Lee A. at September 30, 2004 11:27 PM

I agree with Mr. Moomaw's comments above. I am astounded at these results. Last night's debate might be the preshock of an major upthrust in Kerry's election fortunes. The next two debates will be critical, as will the VP debate.

It will be interesting to see how the Bush camp will attempt to compensate over the next several days, and especially in the next debate.

I expect to see even more venomous attacks against Kerry in the days to come. It is interesting to note that even some Republicans have expressed shock at the willingness of TeamBush to lie so baldly about the situation in Iraq, the looming deficit issues, and about Kerry personally.

Kerry should now relentlessly focus on the themes of the next debate. He must be agile, shifting his emphasis from Iraq and the international situation to the domestic problems. He has over the next several days, an opportunity to prepare the electorate for his positions on the economy, tax elitism, employment, and the environment. In terms of the standard of living, health care, and general optimism for the future are we better off than four years ago? The fact that a significant majority of the electorate still seems to think we are on the wrong track, both domestically and internationally should be cultivated and articulated. Why do they think this? Where does their discontent and anexity lie? Identify the fundamental emotions there and tap into them and explain, concisely, vividly, how he will change that.

Posted by: Scott Austin at September 30, 2004 11:42 PM

"Those first two are online polls, Brad -- and as such worthless"

They are unrepresentative, which doesn't make them worthless. They're actually good pointers on who feels motivated to log in and vote.

Posted by: ogmb at September 30, 2004 11:42 PM

Those numbers on the Bush side of the ledger represent minds [sic] that cannot make rational decisions.
Here are 2 apples: one green and ripe and juicy; one red and rotten.
Have a taste of each. Which do you prefer?
To me this is a worry that there is THAT large a portion that prefer the red apple.
Some people will prefer the red apple no matter how rotten.
But the choice was 'who won the debate?' not 'who are you going to vote for?' Is this where they got tripped up?
Do we need to make this vote a little bit harder by asking both questions?

Posted by: calmo at September 30, 2004 11:54 PM

The Wall Street Journal's online poll is 75-20 for Kerry. Seems that if Bush didn't do well with this audience, he's going to have trouble with thinking conservatives.

(yeah, both of them, I know)..

Posted by: Dan Ryan at October 1, 2004 02:01 AM

Watching the split screens, many times it seemed that George Bush looked flustered and disoriented.

George Bush apparently does not deal with pressure well.

Anyone who noticed that should certainly send an email or a letter to at least one news organization pointing it out.

Posted by: Cody Pazos at October 1, 2004 03:23 AM

Damn! At first I was worried it was Bush on the left!

The debate was much more debate-like than I had expected it to be. And, yes, our "president" did look pretty bad to me. It'll be interesting to see what the spinmeisters make of it.

Posted by: Murray Bowles at October 1, 2004 03:41 AM

The Presidential "debate" between Kerry and Bush revealed a lot more about these men than I had expected to see:

John Kerry revealed himself as a strong and steady leader who understands how to make the best of the mess we have gotten into in the Iraq war. Kerry consistently stated that Bush's invasion of Iraq was a collosal mistake, diverting our effort away from the real fight against terrorists. Although he voted to authorize the President's use of force against Hussein in Iraq, Kerry fealt that we were all mislead when Bush broke his pledge to go to war as a last resort,and in cooperation with old allies. Bush had his opportunistic war in spite of US, got thousands of our best people killed, and squandered over 200 $$ billion of our treasury; John Kerry knows how to win help from our friends, and then come home. He knows we cannot and must not lose this one.

I was really hoping to hear President Bush tell the truth about Iraq, but he babbled about fantasies. Bush's neo-con-men turned down help from the UN, and they lied about the real reasons for this war in Iraq. We didn't plan for winning the peace, and our troops are now mired in the quicksands of Babylon. Iraq is in chaos according to our own State Deptartment and CIA intelligence; The people of Iraq want us to get out. Bush still paints a rosey picture of Iraq, but I detected a plaintively pathetic note when Bush talked about their new "Freedom". We're less safe now.

These debates give us new hope for the future: John Kerry is a leader we can believe and count on for America's security. George Bush has blown our country's credibility and trust; I'm ready for real change at the top.

Posted by: Wayne Taylor at October 1, 2004 03:45 AM

What bothered me about the debate was the failure of both men to tell the truth about the mess Bush has got us into. It is going to take a commitment of 200,000 to 400,000 more troops to bring security to Iraq. Both men avoided bringing that up. so the public is stil in the dark about what lies ahead of us. But, not bringing security to Iraq is losing the War.

Posted by: spencer at October 1, 2004 05:28 AM

how do i read these numbers? kerry-bush or bush-kerry?

Posted by: Robert at October 1, 2004 05:31 AM

I hope that this instrument of comparison enters also in the Italian political tradition.

Perhaps in the USA some people watch more to as the candidates are dressed rather than to the content of their words, but the television comparison me seems an optimal completion to electoral campaign therefore important.

That it gains the best one! Also why by now the outcome of the American ballot influence the destinies of the world.

Alberto
Rome - Italy
http://sofia.splinder.com

P.S. Sorry for my not perfect English!

Posted by: Alberto Stanchi at October 1, 2004 05:34 AM

One very good point no one seems to have picked up on is that when Kerry accused Bush of sending kids into combat without flak jackets and other equipment Bush did not try to defend himself.

In other words he admitted Kerry was right.

This could make some very effective ads.

Posted by: spencer at October 1, 2004 05:49 AM

The online polls *are* worthless. The blogger Atrios used to regularly announce Wolf Blitzer putting up questions. Everyone would go over there and the end results would be 90-10 against the conservative position.

That said, Kerry clearly crushed Bush. The best one could say is that (perhaps) it wasn't a complete knock out.

But the media immediately started spinning it differently, e.g. "it was a good, substantive debate." It *was*, but it was importantly a debate Kerry clearly won. And the (non-online) polls clearly show Kerry a winner.

Anyone interested in the press angle should follow commentary on www.dailyhowler.com. He hasn't posted on the debate itself yet, but he's been very good on the past bias in the press (e.g. in 2000, when in at least one debate Gore won in the instant post-debate polls, yet the result drifted the other way due to the media spin).

(Disclaimer: don't think fixing Iraq will be as straightforward as Kerry says it will be.)

Posted by: liberal at October 1, 2004 06:34 AM

The online polls are not 'worthless', they just measure something different, the relative strength of the candidates blogospheres.

Posted by: Phill at October 1, 2004 06:35 AM

Pudentilla's Perspectivehas a summary of US and European media reaction to the debate (short answer: Kerry wins bigtime), which includes comparisons of Bush to a) Fredo in the Godfather; b) Alfred E. Newman; c) Barney Fife.

Posted by: Pudentilla at October 1, 2004 06:58 AM

Gore came out ahead in the instant polls four years ago, and the Bush spinmeisters turned rotten hay into gold over the next three days. You're fooling yourself if you don't believe it will happen again. In Sunday's newspapers, the analysts will wonder how Kerry squandered his big chance, and marvel at how eloquent Bush was, especially when you discount his mannerisms and instead just read the transcript.

To our Italian friend: One of the first things out of a Fox News commentator's mouth was a dismissal of Kerry as someone who had a nice manicure and good facial bronzer (in other words, cosmetics for television). Fox News is the most popular cable news outlet here, and its views reflect those of a large plurality of Americans. You should expect most Americans to conclude, after lots of TV viewing, that Kerry was an empty suit in this debate and said nothing substantial.

Posted by: Holden Lewis at October 1, 2004 07:19 AM

>>>Fox News is the most popular cable news outlet here

But the debate was on all three networks and was likely watched by at least 50 million Americans (100 million watched the last Clinton-Bush-Perot debate). Fox might have gotten 2 million true believers at most, so I wouldn't worry about how they spun it last night (though the pushback from them and LImbaugh over the next few days will sadly go unanswered).

Posted by: son volt at October 1, 2004 07:29 AM

The big part of the debate - and the reason Kerry won - is that it shifted the debate about the "War on Terror" to Korea.

This is a topic where Bush has failed disastrously and where he cannot whip up latent bigotry against Arabs and Muslims.

Posted by: Korea Guy at October 1, 2004 07:37 AM

It's over fellas:

http://flyunderthebridge.blogspot.com/2004/10/read-em-and-weep-usual-suspects.html

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at October 1, 2004 08:04 AM

The most important thing to notice here is Bush's debate win numbers -- down to the 25-35% range. This is the range widely considered to be Bush's hardcore base -- the people who, if Bush were to show up at their houses, break the windows, set fire to the pets, slap their children, and raid the cookie jar, would still vote for him.

The fact that apparently 100% of the population outside of that base thinks that Kerry won speaks volumes.

Posted by: Jonathan at October 1, 2004 08:12 AM

"But the choice was 'who won the debate?' not 'who are you going to vote for?' Is this where they got tripped up?
Do we need to make this vote a little bit harder by asking both questions?"

This is pretty much the key issue. I think very few people think that Bush 'won' the debating. The question is: did Kerry win new voters? We won't know that for a couple of days.

For me the depressing thing is that both candidates are living in fantasy-land about Iran and the Sudan. And the fantasy that Europe and 'the UN' are going to be providing troops is annoying coming from the same person who said that 8,000 was a pathetic commitment from the UK. Hate to tell ya, but you won't be getting more from any other country.

The thing that I came away with is that the most militarily, diplomatically and economically powerful country in the world is going to be led by one of two people who clearly don't understand foreign policy realities.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at October 1, 2004 09:01 AM

I find it quite interesting that the online Poll at Fox has Bush leading by only 3 points, 41 - 38. Of course its not scientific but I would expect Bush to own the poll at Fox given the slant of its presentation and viewers. Only a 3 point lead at BushTV should have him worried!

Posted by: mark at October 1, 2004 09:17 AM

'The thing that I came away with is that the most militarily, diplomatically and economically powerful country in the world is going to be led by one of two people who clearly don't understand foreign policy realities.'

Incorrect. We know that the current leader does not understand anything about foreign policy and makes it based on what God tells him. The new leader, really, could not be worse.

Posted by: rg at October 1, 2004 09:56 AM

Sebastian-

With all due respect, saying that both candidates "don't understand foreign policy realities" is shockingly arrogant- I suppose you mean to say you do understand such things, and moreover can present them to a massive audience in a politically palatable way?

Of course, it's true for Bush, who had the jaw-dropping gall to say "I understand how the world works." Somebody put the man out of his misery, he just wants to go home.

Posted by: Rob at October 1, 2004 01:55 PM

A big difference between Kerry and Gore is that if he loses, it won't be his fault. Gore never asked the American people to vote for him; he wanted the American people to rationalize their way to a decision of voting for him. Kerry is different because he's not exactly saying people should vote for him because it's the rational decision, though it is. He's asking the voters to trust in him, which is a different kind of appeal. I think that's why Bush's 'flip-flopping' angle works so well against Kerry. It appeals to those people who don't base their decisions on rationale, but instead on personal intuition. Frankly, most Americans are like this. This whole 'gut-feeling' and 'common sense' thing is so overrated, and over relied-upon.

If Kerry continues on and amplifies his 'trust in me' appeal, I think he'll have a shot at winning.

Posted by: chickensoup at October 1, 2004 02:56 PM

Patrick (October 1, 2004 08:04 PM)

I'm surprised - I followed the link to your "bog" and saw your headline ("USA Today says it's over"). But the phrase "it's over" was itself a link to USA today, which headlined ITS story as follows:

"Kerry holds edge over Bush following first debate"

Hmmmmm... so if Kerry holds edge over Bush, are you saying it's over? Or are you saying that you have as much trouble with reality as Bush does?


Posted by: Uncle Jeffy at October 1, 2004 09:39 PM

Yep. Kerry won for sure, no doubt about it.

Posted by: Blair at October 3, 2004 06:56 PM

mortgage leads

Posted by: mortgage leads at October 4, 2004 11:23 PM

Bush arrogantly ignored other countries' protests and rushed to war, unprepared and unplanned. Then he shut them out of the reconstruction contracts, in fact I remember reading *before* we fired the first shot that the contracts to fix Iraq had already been divied up.

Now what can Kerry do to fix the mess we're in?
How can he possibly get other countries to help us?
1) Allow the other countries to participate in reconstruction of Iraq. This is a very lucrative business, financed by Iraq's oil, of course. (I guess N. Korea is safe with its nukes because it doesn't have oil...)
2) Remind the other countries that a clean transition of Iraq to a democratic state will provide a good trading partner and less terrorism in the future. It's in their own best interests to help us.
3) Conversion of Iraq and Afghanistan to friendly status gives us allies on both sides of Iran, giving us tremendous power to influence them and make sure they never sponsor terrorists again.

Posted by: Mike at October 5, 2004 10:29 PM

Bush arrogantly ignored other countries' protests and rushed to war, unprepared and unplanned. Then he shut them out of the reconstruction contracts, in fact I remember reading *before* we fired the first shot that the contracts to fix Iraq had already been divied up.

Now what can Kerry do to fix the mess we're in?
How can he possibly get other countries to help us?
1) Allow the other countries to participate in reconstruction of Iraq. This is a very lucrative business, financed by Iraq's oil, of course. (I guess N. Korea is safe with its nukes because it doesn't have oil...)
2) Remind the other countries that a clean transition of Iraq to a democratic state will provide a good trading partner and less terrorism in the future. It's in their own best interests to help us.
3) Conversion of Iraq and Afghanistan to friendly status gives us allies on both sides of Iran, giving us tremendous power to influence them and make sure they never sponsor terrorists again.

Posted by: Mike at October 5, 2004 10:30 PM

I'm consistently amazed at how people who are educated can manage to overlook the continued lies spouted by the mainstream media. With a due respect, it appears that most of the posters here do not check the facts. Factcheck.com or.org, a non-partisan group, which debunks both candidates, has shown that a majority of what Kerry-Edwards has said is false or outright lies. Does Bush twist facts too, yes. But the extent of the Kerry-Edwards campaign lies is amazing.

Putting that aside, Kerry's actions speak louder than his words. There is not one shred of action in his past that indicates he will do what he is promising. In fact the opposite is true. He has consistently stood against American policy and its troops since he returned from Vietnam. He has consistently voted against supporting the troops. And, has displayed no real foreign policy experience or understanding.

What has he done for Massechusetts? Why don't you hear his fellow statesmen singing his praises? That to me is telling. At least we know what we are getting with Bush, like him or not. Whether you think he is naive or wrong, he is straight up, principled and stands for something. Kerry and Edwards, stand for themselves. They are saying just about anything to get elected. What can they actually deliver and how will they do it? No one knows. They are not saying.

Posted by: Zakarian at October 6, 2004 05:38 PM