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Support for Palin Increased Following the Debate & One user voted more than 600 times for Obama and Biden in our poll

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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.

Vp_poll_results_v2_2 The second and third hypotheses are supported by the fact that more respondents were undecided about the winner of the debate on Friday morning (7%) than on Thursday night (3%).

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.

–Jon Bruner

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The Palin Rebound

 

Published: October 2, 2008
There are some moments when members of a political movement come together as one, sharing the same thoughts, feeling the same emotions, breathing the same shallow breaths. One of those occasions occurred Thursday night when Republicans around the country crouched nervously behind their sofas, glimpsed out tentatively at their flat screens and gripped their beverages tightly as Sarah Palin walked onto the debate stage at Washington University in St. Louis.

There she was, resplendent in black, striding out like a power-walker, and greeting Joe Biden like an assertive salesman, first-naming him right off the bat.

Just as the midcentury psychologist Abraham Maslow predicted, Republicans watching the debate had a hierarchy of needs. First, they had a need for survival. Was this woman capable of completing an extemporaneous paragraph — a collection of sentences with subjects, verbs, objects and, if possible, an actual meaning?

By the end of her opening answers, it was clear she would meet the test. She spoke with that calm, measured poise that marked her convention speech, not the panicked meanderings of her subsequent interviews.

When nervous, Palin has a tendency to over-enunciate her words like a graduate of the George W. Bush School of Oratory, but Thursday night she spoke like a normal person. It took her about 15 seconds to define her persona — the straight-talking mom from regular America — and it was immediately clear that the night would be filled with tales of soccer moms, hockey moms, Joe Sixpacks, main-streeters, “you betchas” and “darn rights.” Somewhere in heaven Norman Rockwell is smiling.

With a bemused smile and a never-ending flow of words, she laid out her place on the ticket — as the fearless neighbor for the heartland bemused by the idiocies of Washington. Her perpetual smile served as foil to Biden’s senatorial seriousness.

Where was this woman was during her interview with Katie Couric?

Their primal need for political survival having been satisfied, her supporters then looked for her to shift the momentum. And here we come to the interesting cultural question posed by her performance. The presidency and the vice presidency once was the preserve of white men in suits. As the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick pointed out on PBS Thursday night, if, in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro had spoken in the relentlessly folksy tones that Palin used, she would have been hounded out of politics as fundamentally unserious.

But that was before casual Fridays, boxers or briefs and T-shirt-clad Silicon Valley executives. Today, Palin can hit those colloquial notes again and again, and it is not automatically disqualifying.

On Thursday night, Palin took her inexperience and made a mansion out of it. From her first “Nice to meet you. May I call you Joe?” she made it abundantly, unstoppably and relentlessly clear that she was not of Washington, did not admire Washington and knew little about Washington. She ran not only against Washington, but the whole East Coast, just to be safe.

To many ears, her accent, her colloquialisms and her constant invocations of the accoutrements of everyday life will seem cloying. But in the casual parts of the country, I suspect, it went down fine. In any case, that’s who Palin is.

On matters of substance, her main accomplishment was to completely sever ties to the Bush administration. She treated Bush as some historical curiosity from the distant past. Beyond that, Palin broke no new ground, though she toured the landscape of McCain policy positions with surprising fluency. Like the last debate, this one was surprisingly wonky — a lifetime subscription to Congressional Quarterly. Palin could not match Biden when it came to policy detail, but she never obviously floundered.

She was surprisingly forceful on the subject of Iran (pronouncing Ahmadinejad better than her running mate) though she stepped over the line in claiming that Democrats sought to raise the “the white flag of surrender.”

Biden, for his part, was smart, fluid and relentless. He did not hit the change theme hard enough. He did not praise Barack Obama enough. But he was engaging, serious and provided a moving and revealing moment toward the end, when he invoked the tragedy that befell his own family and revealed the passion that has driven him all his life.

Still, this debate was about Sarah Palin. She held up her end of an energetic debate that gave voters a direct look at two competing philosophies. She established debating parity with Joe Biden. And in a country that is furious with Washington, she presented herself as a radical alternative.

By the end of the debate, most Republicans were not crouching behind the couch, but standing on it. The race has not been transformed, but few could have expected as vibrant and tactically clever a performance as the one Sarah Palin turned in Thursday night.

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