Friday, October 3, 2008

According To The Polls Nobody Won

Watching the news this morning and scanning the news sites, it is incredible how wide the polls are on who won the Vice Presidential debate last night. This I think speaks more about polls than about the debate and further highlights something I believe, who won the debate is an irrelevant and unanswerable question.

The real question is how do you determine who won a debate. What does a “win” look like? Sometimes it’s obvious. If one of the participants would have spent the night stammering or showing a complete lack of command of the issues, one could point to a winner. Neither did this last night so, we can’t use this to decide.

Further, which part of the debate did either win? Did Biden win the questions on foreign policy? Maybe but how do you measure that absent a knock out? Same with the economy, war on terror, and on and on. So then how do people determine, based on the different questions posed during the debate, who won? Do they keep score at home? Is the last questions, and who won them, stuck in their mind? Is their one or two questions that they remember and this clouds their opinion of the debate?

Finally, there is the question of preconceived bias. The reality, and I am guilty of this myself, is that if you were a Sarah Plain fan, she won the debate. Conversely if you’re a Joe Biden fan, he won the debate.

Some will ask then, what about the “independent voter”?

First, I will go on record to say that I believe this notion of a vast population of independent voters is grossly over reported. I have noticed that over the last roughly 8 years, there has been an increased amount of talk about independent voters. My opinion is that it has taken on the feel of a fad. I can’t help but believe that it has become almost fashionable to say your independent. You have the media clamoring over you and if you happen to be in a diner when the media stops by, you get on the news.

Now this is not to say that there are not voters out there who truly are independent. I believe there are, I just believe it is not in the numbers reported. Actually, I believe that a true independent voter is the best kind. This means they are not blinded by ideology, they look at a candidate and vote according to what they see. They’re a model really for partisans like me.

I believe though that most so called independent voters have an inherent political bias and ultimately vote for a particular party. You will hear qualifiers such as Bob here is an independent who voted Democrat (or Republican) the last three presidential elections. This does not meet my definition of an independent.

Back to our question though, what about the independent voter. The discussion above illustrates that polling this group can be tricky at best. The main problem is what kind of independents are they polling. Do 70% of them lean one way or another, this skews the data.

I think the bottom line is that barring a real obvious win it is hard, if not impossible, to poll on who won a debate. The polls are nothing more than something else to debate and gives the media the opportunity to slant their coverage, a chance the media is taking full advantage of, based on a survey of the sites this am.

The real answer is how they ultimately help their respective campaign. We can ask 400 people who won, or we can see who ultimately wins the election.

Almost more important, I believe, than who is doing better in the “who won the debate question” is the other questions in the poll. Questions such as

-Who was more likeable?
Like it or not, this matters in presidential campaigns. I think it’s an indictment of our system that this is even an issue, but it is. Palin won this on several polls.

-Did Palin do better than anticipated?
This is an important question because Palin has had a couple of rough weeks in the media and was starting to lose ground on her popularity and was even looking like she may drag the ticket down a bit. Even people on the hard left begrudgingly agreed she did better than they thought. This is huge for the campaign. It puts to rest the whole issue of her being a poor choice.

-Do you feel comfortable having Palin or Biden being president?
Biden won this decisively but Palin improved voter’s views of her (according to the polls) significantly. Biden still scores higher but she scored high enough to neutralize it as an issue.

So the debate will rage over who won but I feel it’s not a worthy way to spend our time because there really isn’t a good, definitive answer.

For the record though, Sarah Palin clearly won.


Nancy said...

I agree with some points I disagree with others, Sarah clearly won that debate last night. Biden was boring and arrogant. Joe Scarbourough made a great point about the polls, he said look the media has been calling her an idiot, people arent then going to tell the media "hey Im for the idiot." Keep watching the polls, you are going to see movement.

Conservative said...

Two polls indicated that Biden did better in the debate. A CBS Poll found that 46 percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate thought Biden won, with 21 percent siding with Palin. A CNN poll found respondents judging Biden the winner by a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent but calling Palin more likable by 54 percent to Biden's 36 percent
But lets face it, it's CBS and CNN. Duh!

Chuck said...

Nancy, I think we have to give Biden the edge for being the policy wonk. Palin won on style and likeability.

Conservative, thanks for stopping by. 21% for Palin, stop. They can't possibly think anyone would take this seriously. I think the polls in the polls are what to look for. Like I said Biden did well on style but people may not have noticed because he was boring. Gore and Kerry scored well on points to, ask them how they feel about this "win". said...

Palin was upbeat, energetic and passionate. She demonstrated leadership, executive experience and results. Biden appeared knowledgeable but boring. He was expecting a cakewalk and anticipating debating a moron. However, I thought the more the evening progressed, the faster he talked and the more panicky he looked.

Drudgereport poll earlier today showed 70% Palin, 28% Biden, but they took down the poll. Aol poll shows Palin won by a hair, and they consistently favor McCain by a wide margin.

Of course, the mainstream media will tell us Biden won, and SNL will ridicule Palin.

I agree with your assessment for the record: SHE WON!!

Chuck said...

Gail, I thought Biden was looking fifgety towards the end.

MK said...

I believe myself to be an independent voter, independent in the sense that i don't belong to any party. But i am a conservative, so i'll only for the party/candidate that reflects those same values.

Though my detractors and haters will refuse t believe me, i don't care much for the skin-color or sex of the candidates, it's what's inside that matters.

As for the debate, you've summed it up pretty well Chuck, if the MSM wanted to learn something about being objective, they could pick up a thing or two from you.

In my opinion, people should have made up their minds by now, i mean these guys have been banging away for months now and people ought to have made up their minds by now. If the voter is still struggling to decide come polling day, heaven help us all.

cube said...

Biden told lies upon lies. That he professed them in a resoundingly professional manner, still makes them lies. Don't fall for the crap. Pretty sounding crap is still crap.

Conservative said...

Palin showed she could stand toe to toe with Joe Biden, a man who has been in the Senate since I was a kid. Biden is the problem and has never ventured from his hard left positions. Palin comes across as fresh, hopeful and future looking. Biden is the sad past.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I feel as though talking head elites in the media keep trying to shape and manipulate our perception as to who won.

What's good, is that 70 million viewers got to see for themselves, before the pundits and MSM weighed in to tell us what we saw.

cube said...

The MSM has been snowing us for years. It's about time we stopped them in their tracks.