I was working so I missed the debate (but boy I think from the descriptions, I might have to watch it on the TiVo.)
Apparently Spoons and John Edward’s mother were the only two people in the country who thought Edward’s won… And rumor has it Cheney had to be rushed back to his undisclosed location because Mamma Edward’s had her umbrella out and was last seen running out the door scream something about that big bully picking on her boy.
Anyway, Spoons makes a point I’ve tried to a number of times but he say it so well, it is worth, repeating/discussing:
…it may be why I’m in such stark disagreement with most of the blogosphere and professional pundits.
Look at it this way: If you’re a pundit, or a blogger, or even an avid blog reader, then you’re in about the top 1% of the most politically informed people in the country. You have a familiary with the issues that is borderline irrational. You’ve seen the different positions taken by the candidates over time. You’re aware of their flip-flops. You know the context surrounding their arguments. You understand why the facile answers of an Edwards or a Kerry are full of shit.
Well, I’ve got news for you: you’re not the target audience.
The average voter barely knows anything about the candidates or the issues. This is especially true of the undecideds, a group bizarrely lauded for their inability to make up their minds.[heh -ed] Someone tuning into the debates to pick a candidate won’t know all the different positions Kerry has taken on the war. They won’t understand the tax or spending issues the candidates are alluding to. They won’t be familiar with the obstructionism of our European “allies,” and the futility of relying on the U.N. They won’t know that John Kerry saw the same intelligence the Bush Administration did, and that Kerry advocated unilateral U.S. military action against Iraq when Clinton was President. They won’t know these or a couple dozen other things that you and I have read about for the past six months.
So, when I watch a debate like this, the question I ask is, which of the candidates is doing a better job of persuading the blank-slate voter who comes to the table without all of the background information that you and I take for [g]ranted.
Forget for a second that the only one in the blogosphere that agreed with Spoons was Andrew Sullivan. (dude, I’m sorry for rubbing it in.)
The point he makes is spot on. The debates aren’t aimed at us and in someways, even ignoring inherent partisan bias, we are not the best people in the world to pick the winner.
There was a study done that I don’t remember enough about to find a link on but it was after the first Bush/Clinton debate. They had 3 groups of people. The first group watched the debate on T.V., the second group listened to an audio recording and the third read a transcript.
The people who saw the debate said something like 60/40 Clinton won. The people who listened to the debate called it a draw and the people who read a transcript call it 60/40 in Bush’s favor.
What was one of the reasons given by the T.V. viewers as to why they picked Clinton? Because George Bush Sr. looked at his watch.
I don’t know where clock-watching ranks on your list of requirements for a President. It doesn’t even make my list. But that one act made a big difference the perceived winner of that “debate.” They aren’t about issues as much as image.
I’m not saying that everyone who says Cheney mopped the floor with him is wrong, just that Spoons’ point is well taken and should be considered when these events are view in the future.
BTW He gives a perfect example from the Bush/Kerry debate. Go read it.