Support for Palin Increased Following the Debate. What Does That Mean?
“fraudulent poll respondents favored Obama and Biden more than McCain and Palin. One user voted more than 600 times for Obama and Biden in our poll. We removed those votes from this analysis, and we also removed those of three other respondents with suspicious voting patterns”
In combing through the results of our Palin/Biden vice-presidential debate poll, I came across an interesting trend: readers who completed our poll the morning after the debate favored Sarah Palin much more than readers who took the survey immediately after the debate.
Between 11pm and 11:29pm on Thursday, 24% of respondents who were not undecided said that Sarah Palin had won the debate over Joe Biden. The following morning, that figure had risen dramatically, to 43% between 10:00am and 10:29am. (The margin of error is ±2 points on the first figure and ±5 points on the second figure.)
This result suggests one (or more) of these three possibilities:
- Republicans were slower to get on the Internet after the debate than were Democrats. This could be due to a number of reasons. I’m thinking time zones: the debate ended at 10:30pm on the East Coast, but only 7:30pm on the more liberal West Coast. It’s possible that liberal Westerners voted immediately after the debate, while conservative Southerners voted the next morning. Or it could be that Republicans go to bed earlier than Democrats.
- Sarah Palin received enough positive media coverage after the debate that readers who absorbed this analysis before voting in our poll (i.e., those who voted in the morning) were more sympathetic to Palin than were those who voted before reading any analysis. Expectations for Sarah Palin were about as low as possible before the debate, which left many commentators at least somewhat impressed. This sentiment might have been effectively transmitted to voters between the end of the debate and the following morning.
- Reactions to the debate were visceral. Neither candidate spent much time during the debate talking about policy, so perhaps immediate reactions were primarily emotional. Sarah Palin is fairly divisive, so it is possible that many respondents watched the debate, walked away with a strong opinion, and then moderated over the next twelve hours as they went back to thinking about the reasons that they support one candidate or the other—reasons that tend to be deeply held and not easily changed by a single debate.
I’d be the last one to suggest that a Web poll like this one is scientific, but this trend is substantial. Practically everyone who took our poll arrived there by searching Google for some variation of “debate winner.” Our sample, then, was thinking about the debate in terms of winners and losers, and they were interested in seeing results presented in those terms. These results seem, at the very least, to suggest that voters may moderate their views after they have given their political senses a short rest.
A few other interesting things emerged from our poll, as well. Undecided respondents tended to favor the Obama-Biden ticket after watching the debate: of the 16% of respondents who said the debate had changed their minds, 48% said that they would vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, while 40% said that they would vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin.
Democrats were also more confident of their own candidate’s performance: of those who reported that they would vote for McCain and Palin in November, 91% said that Palin won Thursday’s debate. Of those intending to vote for Obama and Biden, 96% said that Biden won the debate.
A final note: fraudulent poll respondents favored Obama and Biden more than McCain and Palin. One user voted more than 600 times for Obama and Biden in our poll. We removed those votes from this analysis, and we also removed those of three other respondents with suspicious voting patterns—only one of whom entered votes favoring McCain and Palin.