Friday, October 12, 2012

Nate Silver and others on the VP debate

Last night, I wrote that "I should post something for tonight's VP debate, but I'm not up for it right now." I'm up for it now.

Nate Silver's first read of the debate was "In Polls, Biden Gets a Hold."
News media narratives tend to group horse-race developments into one of the three basic categories: win, lose, or draw. Sometimes, however, a political event falls into the awkward middle ground between those realms.

Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate in Danville, Ky., is a potential example of this. Instant polls conducted after the debate are suggestive of something between a tie and a modest win for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

A CBS News-Knowledge Networks poll of undecided voters who watched the debate found 50 percent giving the advantage to Mr. Biden, 31 percent to the Republican, Representative Paul D. Ryan, and 19 percent calling the debate a tie.

A CNN poll of debate-watchers, however, had 48 percent giving the debate to Mr. Ryan, and 44 percent to Mr. Biden.
That CNN poll was among all viewers, not just among undecided voters. For a comparable sample to the CBS Snap Poll, here is a video of CNN's focus group of undecided voters.

Erin Burnett is with a Focus Group of undecided voters in Norfolk, Virginia with their reaction to the V.P. debate.
The good news for Biden is that he won when it came to beating expectations, while Ryan underperformed what the viewers expected of him. Also, Biden won the empathy question. However, Ryan won on substance. The end result was that it was a tie, with a third saying that Biden won, a third that Ryan won, and another third declaring the debate a tie. As for who won the most important prize of the night, votes, that was a tie, too, with each candidate gaining three votes.

Erin Burnett is with Focus Group of Virginia undecided voters as they review the best and worst moments of the debate.
The best thing about this debate for Biden is that his low point was on foreign policy while Ryan's was on abortion. I suspect abortion is a bigger deal for most people.

MSNBC also had a focus group. That one gave Biden a clear victory.

What about enthusiasm among already committed partisans?
The social media sentiment during the debate also seemed to flow along these lines. The liberals in my Twitter feed seemed a bit more satisfied with Mr. Biden’s performance than the conservatives were with Mr. Ryan’s, but it wasn’t a slam dunk.
That difference in enthusiasm can be seen in this WXYZ interview with the heads of Michigan's Democratic and Republican parties. Brewer is much more enthusiastic about Biden's performance than Schostak is about Ryan's.

As for how it affected me, check out this idea from Nate.
There is a plausible hypothesis, however, that some of Mr. Romney’s recent surge in the polls reflects a growing “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans. To the extent that Mr. Biden’s performance re-energized Democratic partisans, he may have left President Obama in a slightly better position than where he started the night.
That's how I feel. I saw this debate as a clear win for Biden, and it helped me feel less panicked than I did Tuesday morning. Nate, on the other hand, isn't convinced.
My best guess: perhaps Mr. Biden can be credited with what in baseball statistics would be termed a “hold”: something a bit shy of either a win or a save and which will probably seem perfunctory with the passage of time, but which might have done his team a bit of good.
I'll take a hold over the slide of the past week, thank you very much.

Finally, I have this to say to Eddie Munster and Willard the Rat--Malarkey and stuff!

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