Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who Watches Tonight?

So, how many will watch tonight's presidential debate?

A brand new NPR poll suggests nearly three out of every five likely voters will tune in for the whole thing (it's a PDF, scroll down to Q45 or hunt for the word "debate").  Another 17 percent say they will catch some of the debate.

Is this likely?  No.

As Dr. House always reminds us, people lie.  In surveys, they lie about attending religious services and they lie about whether they voted or not.  And they're likely lying here.  Still, expect big numbers tonight as Obama and Romney share the stage for the first time.

By the way, Questions 46 and 47 are kinda strange but, if you're a political junkie, kinda fascinating.  Sixty-two percent nationally (60 percent in battleground states) say the debate is not really going to change their mind.  Thirteen percent nationally (15 percent battleground) say it will.  Those numbers reflect the base, I suppose, and represent those who "strongly" hold to that belief.  The "softer" folks, you see a greater likelihood that the debates will sway their opinion.  That's the voters the candidates are really aiming at, so this suggests tonight's debate really does matter.

Q47 suggests, if you read it carefully (and take the time to figure out exactly what they're asking here) that people are watching to learn about Mitt Romney more than they are about Barack Obama (not a huge margin, but it's there).  That makes sense.  The first debate is often about the challenger, not the incumbent.

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