Last night, The Daily Beast used Urtak to gauge reader reaction to the first presidential debate between the great statesmen Willard Mitt Romney and Barack Hussein Obama. They received a tremendous response, collecting thousands of responses and dozens of reader questions right during the debate. Here’s the link.
Here’s an interesting result. 62% of the participants answered during the debate that they thought Obama was winning. So, a modest win for the president.
But the performance of Romney was a major story. His rhetorical aggression and confident demeanor seemed to catch the president (and the audience) off guard, and so the post debate commentary on TV and online was almost unanimous: Romney not only won, he won easily!
Andrew Sullivan, The Beast’s star blogger and creator of The Dish blog, certainly thinks so, saying, “Obama may have even lost the election tonight.” Sullivan then used Urtak to ask his readers what they thought of the debate, and here’s the fascinating part. Of the several thousand Dish readers who participated, more than 93% say they plan to vote for Obama. And yet a staggering 82% of the audience said that Romney won.
So what does it all mean? How could Obama be winning, and then lose so decisively? Was it a decline in performance over the course of the debate? A flat closing statement? A different audience looking for different things? The effect of the media machine?
What’s clear is that public opinion is extremely nuanced and highly volatile. To measure it, we need excellent tools, but more importantly, a profoundly inquisitive mindset. To provide the tool is the mission behind Urtak. Because the inquisitive mind is what YOU provide. The kind of thoughtfulness we need is not a monopoly of Gallup and Rasmussen and the other legacy pollsters.