|Man Without Qualities|
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Following the first presidential debate a prior post reviewed the Man Without Qualities's take on what I believe to be the most significant aspects of the styles of the two candidates:
It appears to me that the ensuing performance of the candidates in the polls has been quite consistent with the above observations. The second debate has now come and gone, and Mr. Bush did not repeat his prior mistakes. But more importantly, Senator Kerry's slippage in the polls appears to have been well under way before the second debate, as the Rasmussen Report today notes:
Sunday October 10, 2004--The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 50% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. Voters have declared the second Presidential debate a tie with fans of each candidate thinking that their man won. ...[J]ust over one-third of the interviews for today's update were completed after the conclusion of Friday night's Presidential debate. There was not a noticeable jump in the post-debate interviews, but it will take a few more days to fully measure the impact of the debate.
Recent Rasmussen Poll results seem to track a public that was for a few days pulled towards the Senator by his first debate performance, but then chose another direction despite Senator Kerry having "won" the post-debate "spin" cycle:
If I am correct that Senator Kerry's style leaves a substantial bitter after taste beginning, say, a week after his presentation, then the bitter after taste should be all the more intense following the second debate, since Mr. Bush did not repeat the mistakes he made in the first one. But one would not expect to see the negative polling consequences for the Democratic ticket to show up for more several days. That trajectory is, so far, all consistent with Rasmussen's observation there was not a noticeable jump in the post-debate interviews.
The consistency of my theory with the second half of Rasmussen's observation, that it will take a few more days to fully measure the impact of the debate is a little more complicated. Yes, the debate's effects will be fully incorporated into the tracking poll and voters' minds in a few days. But, if I am right, the tendency of voters to recoil from whatever favorable effects Senator Kerry had on those voters in the second debate, will lag by several more days.
That seems to be what happened after the first debate.
UPDATE: Bill Safire's take on the second debate gets almost everything right, beginning with:
When pro-Kerry commentators solemnly pronounce Debate Round 2 to have been "a draw" - you know George Bush won that round.
The big sea-change in American political coverage is that now when someone like Mr. safire alludes to pro-Kerry commentators much of the public immediately know he is referring to essentially everyone at the news divisions at the three "old" networks, CNN and the usual print media suspects. Yes, those media outlets and their agents deny, deny, deny. But, what is true for Senator Kerry is also true for them: "It's clear for everybody to see. And as I said, you can run, but you can't hide."
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