Friday, January 27, 2012

Stats: CNN Florida Debate 1-26-2012 (Wolf Blitzer)

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Some heavy baiting coupled with a fairly hands-off style from CNN's Wolf Blitzer resulted in several tussles between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the GOP frontrunners. Mitt talking the most of all the candidates with 24:09 (mm:ss) and Rick Santorum & Newt following closely with 22:08 and 21:31 respectively. Ron Paul once again lagging the rest of the field with 13:57 of speaking time, good enough for 17% of the overall pie.

It should be said that generally Wolf did a solid job of involving everyone in each topic even though he targeted Mitt & Newt more often in terms of questions posed, but the bulk of the extra time came from back 'n forth rebuttals. Whereas Santorum had fewer questions than the frontrunners and only four more turns than Ron Paul, he maximized his mic time by having longer answers and averaged 14 seconds longer per response than Dr Paul, 16 seconds longer than Mitt and 25 seconds longer than the Speaker.

It would be nice to have an effort that resulted in all of the candidates receiving an equal time, but overall when Wolf strayed from the campaign issues and focused on the policy issues he did a decent job of involving all of the nominees. CNN managed to squeeze an hour and twenty minutes of actual talking time, so that speaks well of how the debate was handled in terms of letting the Republicans use the stage time.

Here's the CNN Florida debate stats:

Total Talk %
Romney 24:09 29.53%
Santorum 22:08 27.07%
Gingrich 21:31 26.32%
Ron Paul 13:57 17.07%
Total 1:21:46 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Gingrich 31 32.29%
Romney 29 30.21%
Santorum 20 20.83%
Ron Paul 16 16.67%
Total 96 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 1:53 5:09
Gingrich 2:05 5:58
Santorum 3:18 10:25
Ron Paul 3:58 9:55

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Gingrich 18 10 3
Romney 17 12 0
Ron Paul 14 2 0
Santorum 14 5 1
Total 63 29 4
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stats: NBC Florida Debate 1-23-2012 (Brian Williams)

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Several things were clear tonight. Brian Williams was concerned with creating sparks between candidates, and discussing the election itself rather than the issues that need governing. Perhaps just as clear was the lack of interest in mixing Ron Paul into the conversation. Speaking an overall of 10:08 (mm:ss), Ron Paul received just 10 turns talking, and at one point even waited for the other candidates a combined 14.5 minutes of nominee talking whereas no other candidate even approached 10 minutes in between turns.

Mitt Romney made a point of calling out Newt's ethics violations and overall disdain the Speaker had from his own party. Speaker Gingrich made a point of being himself and refuting facts with redirection and audacious tones. The man deserves credit for being crafty, not that "crafty" is a good trait in a President.

The debate did maintain an air of respect, even if poorly moderated. With Gingrich riding high you can expect him to stay above the fray until he's next threatened in the polls. As long as Newt stays Newt, that could come at any moment.

Connect on Facebook, here's the GOP Statistics, they speak loudly:

Total Talk %
Romney 21:56 33.27%
Gingrich 19:44 29.92%
Santorum 14:08 21.43%
Ron Paul 10:08 15.38%
Total 1:05:58 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 27 36.00%
Gingrich 27 36.00%
Santorum 11 14.67%
Ron Paul 10 13.33%
Total 75 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 1:54 6:40
Gingrich 2:09 5:01
Santorum 5:17 7:40
Ron Paul 6:36 14:34

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 16 7 4
Gingrich 15 7 5
Santorum 9 0 2
Ron Paul 8 0 2
Total 48 14 13
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chuck Norris is Wrong and Deceived About Newt Gingrich

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In recent weeks Chuck Norris has been writing (part 1, part 2) about the qualities that he believes are important in the Republican Presidential candidate which ended with an endorsement for Newt Gingrich (link). While his list may be good or bad, the real question is whether he honestly applies his own criteria.

He doesn't. Not if he's forcing the square pegs of Newt Gingrich into those round holes. The guy has the stability of a white water raft. His entire life reflects this.

The 10 Questions of Chuck Norris:

1) Who is most committed to follow and lead by the U.S. Constitution?
Newt Gingrich fully ignores the 5th Amendment's right to due process by endorsing Presidential assasssination lists a la Barack Obama's Al Awlaki killing as well as disregarding the 4th Amendment's right to privacy vis a vis endorsing the Patriot Act. With standards like that, why should he even take an oath to defend it?

Jack Hunter also has an interesting piece regarding Newt's foreword to a 1995 book endorsing killing off our current form of government. (link)

2) Who has the greatest ability to rally, unify and mobilize citizens across political and societal spectrums?
Newt is as divisive a politician as any in recent American history. His solution to solve problems is to bitterly wage war and grandstand, claiming some superior moral high ground. How does he propose to reach out to black communities? Insult them by saying they should "demand paychecks and not be satisfied with foodstamps". (link)

That's recent without even digging into his past ethics violations as Speaker of the House (link; which was the first time in American history a Speaker of the House was punished for ethics violations), his "petty" (Newt's own words) reaction to not getting what he wanted on Air Force One as House Speaker (link) which led to a government shut down, and numerous disparaging remarks to many communities over his career as (satirically) covered by Jon Stewart (link).

That's some unifier.

3) Who has the best working comprehension of America?
To flesh this out, Norris adds: "The degree to which one comprehends America's ebbs and flows parallels one's proficiency to lead. As the adage goes, if one doesn't know history, he is doomed to repeat its mistakes."

Yes, Newt is a historian, but that will help as much as President Obama being a Constitutional lawyer helped in defending the Constitution. It really only means that whatever Newt wants to do he'll be able to pull the historic "facts" that help make his case since he clearly never applies history to defend the Constitution. Examples to come...

4) Who has the best ability to influence a volatile world away from the brink of destruction?
The "influencer" called for the assassination of Iranian scientists, which has since been done resulting only in the escalation of tension between Israel, Iran and us. Hardly a step back from the brink.

Luckily, Wired has detailed some of Newt's more "nuanced" positions on foreign policy and defense (link) with such gems as saying that Iran would install a democracy by 2004, that's Newt circa 2002, clearly since he contemplates a military regime change his prediction fell short. Hey, it happens, but he failed to predict the rising threat of terrorism and overstated North Korea's threat. I'm all for failed predictions, at least you have a view, but when your overreaction can start a war over false assumptions then there's reason to question your judgment. Republicans should have questioned George W Bush's judgment, but he was largely untouched.

To repeat, Newt is calling for a regime change, peaceful or militarily as well as assassination of their scientists. He's openly stated it should all be done covertly with deniability. The historian forgets that this is exactly what caused Iran's revolution in 1979, our 1953 coup to install the Shah by overthrowing the democratically elected Mosaddegh.

5) Who has clear and present moral fortitude?
Even if you overlook Newt's personal life -- he admittedly had affairs on his first and second wife & according to the 2nd wife he also asked for an open marriage (link) -- you should acknowledge his aforementioned ethics violations as a sign of shaky moral foundation. Another disconcerting moment came in a CBS News debate when Gingrich stated that Al Awlaki was convicted by a panel, the panel he's referring to is a secret CIA panel -- not a judicial conviction -- who has released no evidence (link). Supporting such a system for executing an American is in no way fortifying the moral system of laws that is a staple of what sets America apart.

Newton also does not think that waterboarding is torture (link) which is amazing considering the historian cannot recall that it was treated as such after WWII resulting in the hanging of Japanese officers (link). Either Newt is a bad historian or he's being selective with his facts, neither speaks well for the Speaker.

He also supports the death penalty for drug smuggling (link), and while I am not a drug user I want no part of that sort of morality.

6) Who has the best chance of beating President Obama, in and outside of debates?
If winning an argument means sounding the best in the moment and winning public opinion then I'll certainly give props to Newt on this one, he will say whatever it takes to score a point. However, if being right is what's considered to win debates then Newt will get tossed around in the debate's aftermath. Not only is his fact checking awful in followups from debates -- as noted by Awlaki & his views on the legality of torture -- but he also cannot even get the facts of his own life right. Not only did Newt lie about being a historian for Freddie Mac and received in the area of $1.6mm for "strategic advice" while primarily being in direct contact with Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist (link), but he was wanting John McCain to demand Barack Obama return contributions from Freddie & Fannie (link, transcribed by TPM). You have to think this will be run a few times.

Even if "best chance" means just overall beating him in the election then according to the latest CNN poll Mitt Romney & Ron Paul are the only contenders who statistically tie with President Obama while Newt is -9% (link).

In a political debate your record of consistency matters, Newt does not have it and will get shellacked over it (link).

7) Who has the best abilities to lead Washington politics and politicians?
What was Newt's first major campaign action after announcing his candidacy on May 11th (link)? By the end of the month he was on a Greek vacation (link) which was a factor for his staff quitting on June 9th (link), not even a full month into his campaign. People quit campaigns all the time, but your entire staff quitting before the first month? Recently his "relentlessly positive campaign" -- since he was killed in Iowa -- has taken a few detours into negative campaigning (link on Mitt's Romneycare for abortions & Planned Parenthood, link on Ron Paul "stunningly dangerous").

What about as Speaker of the House? He resigned early (link). So the result of all his magnificent leading was his party forcing him to resign? I can't imagine the sign of a good leader is being chased out once attaining the role of leader. It's one thing to be an outsider, but to be an insider-turned-outcast is nothing to be proud of on a resume.

8) Who has the best plan and leadership ability to restore America's economy?
What's most interesting about the Speaker's Economic Plan (link), is that he wants to break up Fannie & Freddie whereas in the past he not only took paychecks from Freddie, but even more astounding is that in a 2007 interview with Freddie he clearly had a different position, stating: "So while we need to improve the regulation of the GSEs, I would be very cautious about fundamentally changing their role or the model itself". Not only did he not predict the economic crash (someone else did), but he was championing the backbone of the bubble all the way until it popped! The man has no clue about economics let alone the ability to understand how policy will affect the economic climate.

Point #7 of his Economic Plan is to "Balance the budget", but how? Well, "by growing the economy, controlling spending, implementing money saving reforms, and replacing destructive policies and regulatory agencies with new approaches." Naturally there are absolutely no spending cuts mentioned, no timeline and therefore no real plan to balance the budget. Unless he thinks he can knock out a $1.6 Trillion deficit without making any noteworthy changes. He has no plan.

9) Who is the most fiscally prudent?
There is absolutely no way having two lines of debt at Tiffany's worth as much $1mm is anywhere near the sanity of being called "fiscally prudent" (link), and Newt was rightly raked over the coals for it by Bob Schieffer (YouTube link).

Gingrich's Social Security reform includes a public pension account option which “the government guarantees that all workers with personal accounts will receive at least as much in retirement as they would under the current Social Security system”, Forbes' Jeffrey Brown wisely points out that publicly guaranteeing a minimum return is a potential fiscal nightmare (to gravely understate it) and a moral hazard in waiting (link). When will we learn that there is an inherent flaw when the government backs investments? You simply cannot remove the element of risk in the marketplace if you wish the market to work properly. To think otherwise is fiscally irresponsible.

10) Who has demonstrated the highest regard for human life?
Pretending that abandoning two wives amidst life challenging afflictions does not apply here, instead let the focus be on policy. Newt's regard for life is that if he becomes President Gingrich then human life survives at his whim. Of his enemies he says, "Kill them," and of anyone he considers a terrorist, kill them (without any judicial oversight / due process), if you're an Iranian scientist he suspects of nuclear practice, "covertly" kill them (transcript, CBS News debate), if you're running drugs? Kill them. Seems like a one size fits all solution, and completely lacking any respect for human life. Creating safety for the public should not come at the expense of the public becoming the collateral damage in the effort to do so, or human life in general.

If you're to have both high respect for the Constitution and human life, then brandishing your own sword of justice is not the way of our national leader. Not if we are to set a moral standard for the entire world. The wars and sanctions in Iraq has cost upwards of a million innocent lives. The sanctions alone were responsible for half a million Iraqi children dying (link). How many innocent lives are justified in bad foreign policy? Newt certainly isn't looking to rein in the abuse of powers if he thinks that he alone has the power to take a life.

I hope Mr Norris is open to reconsidering his endorsement if that is indeed his criteria, along with anyone else with a similar set of guidelines. Newt is wrong, Barack Obama is not the enemy, but rather the enemy is politics as usual. He is the insider's pariah, do not let the prodigal son return.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CNN Republican Debate Stats 1-19-11 (John King)

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Not all talking time is equal. Moderated by CNN's John King, I have to say that this was overall a fairly well moderated debate even if perhaps a bit on the Thunder Dome style. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich each tied for the most turns talking at 22, while Ron Paul spoke only 14 times. However, I think the tale of the tape is in the number of questions aimed at each candidate, and each candidate largely received the same amount at about 12 each. That means all of those extra turns were spent in defense of their record, rebutting each other.

Ron Paul only had two rebuttals, one dealing with the abortion issue. This was astounding. Rick Santorum actually implied that Ron Paul is anything but Pro Life. It should be pointed out that Doctor Paul is an OBGYN and has delivered over 4,000 babies and never performed an abortion. Perhaps next Rick Santorum will say he loves Carol Paul more than Ron does.

Dr Paul believes in the state's right to decide issues of violence as provided in the Constitution whereas Senator Santorum believes in the Constitution unless he doesn't like its restrictions. This would include war powers, privacy, marriage and due process -- which his two-sided arguments are indefinite detentions of US citizens are wrong even if you're accused of terrorism, but killing US citizens if you're accused of being a terrorist is fine, how he reconciles this paradox is beyond the scope of my ability to rationalize.

Now that the GOP Presidential race is down to four we can see a great overall rise in the amount of time distributed to each candidate. On Monday's Fox News debate the top talker, Mitt Romney, received 22 minutes of time speaking -- about the same here -- while all the other candidates had less than 15 minutes, so coupled with a more deliberate attempt at pinging each nominee equally (even with the wild west rebuttals) along with one less body on stage we can see a far more balanced approach to divvying up speaking time. I tip my hat to John King.

Hit me on Facebook, here's the debate statistics for CNN's GOP Debate:

Total Talk %
Romney 22:21 28.08%
Santorum 22:17 28.00%
Gingrich 18:40 23.46%
Ron Paul 16:17 20.46%
Total 1:19:36 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 22 27.50%
Gingrich 22 27.50%
Santorum 22 27.50%
Ron Paul 14 17.50%
Total 80 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 2:45 9:37
Gingrich 2:51 9:34
Santorum 2:52 7:01
Ron Paul 4:10 13:17

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Ron Paul 12 2 0
Gingrich 12 8 2
Santorum 12 9 1
Romney 11 9 2
Total 47 28 5
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fox News South Carolina Debate 1-16-2012

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If there was a winner out of this mess, I cannot fathom who it is. It does seem odd that as soon as I write an article about media bias that Fox News flies in to assure us that there is indeed a lack of objectivity. Bret Baier inserted his own slant by once again labeling Ron Paul as "far to the left of President Obama", he didn't quote any of the other nominees, he simply stated his own opinion. How can this be construed as anything but creating your own narrative?

In the opening segment -- dominated mostly by Bain and political attacks -- Newt Gingrich had three turns talking, Santorum had seven turns, Mitt Romney spoke eight times, Rick Perry twice and Ron Paul once. Even though Kelly Evans was seeking a followup to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum was allowed a response and then immediately a followup and then a fresh question. Three turns in a row.

This wasn't exactly unique considering Romney was allowed a fresh question directly after a response four separate times. Twice separated by a commercial break (he answered/responded before the break, and then received the next question upon returning from break), and twice in mid-debate where he was allowed a response and then a fresh question. Other than Senator Santorum's aforementioned back-to-back response/question, no one else received a fresh question after a string of responses.

If only that were the end of it. The most obvious possible self-created narrative was that eight of Congress Paul's 13 turns talking was regarding foreign policy, easily his widest point of conflict with the Republican base, but rather than receive one single question regarding the economy (he spoke eight turns about foreign policy, once about political ads, once about taxes, once about racism in the drug war and twice about gun rights) the line of questioning seemed to target his "left of the most lefty left thing in the galaxy" foreign policy. Never mind Ron Paul has created the only plan to balance the budget, was the only person on the stage to predict the housing bubble many years before it burst and is the reason so much attention is being paid to economic policy. Now, whether this is for good TV or to hurt Dr Paul I will not try to interpret, because who really knows other than Bret Baier, the lead moderator.

I normally try to make this column a little less Paul centric, but the moderating here was extremely irritating and it seems the stats back it up when broken down a little more granular than the normal overall stats would reveal. Otherwise, it looks like this was a fairly balanced debate where Paul/Santorum/Gingrich received nearly equal time, when it was anything but.

The highlight for me was during the response to Representative Paul, where Paul defended his ads stating Senator Santorum is guilty of bad policy and Santorum conceded his bad policy decisions stating, "I'm a strong conservative, but I'm not perfect. President Bush's signature initiative was No Child Left Behind, I voted for it, [but] I shouldn't have." Booyah. Well, that and when Newt refused to directly answer Juan Williams' question regarding Newt's statement that "blacks should demand jobs, not food stamps", because there's no hint of racism lurking in there. Hey Hannity, want to discuss that instead of Ron's 20 year old newsletters he didn't write? No? Perhaps we'll let Jon Stewart tackle that.

Here's the debate stats for the SC GOP Debate:

Total Talk %
Romney 21:59 30.76%
Santorum 14:13 19.90%
Gingrich 13:28 18.85%
Ron Paul 12:13 17.11%
Perry 9:33 13.37%
Total 1:11:29 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 26 32.50%
Santorum 16 20.00%
Gingrich 15 18.75%
Ron Paul 13 16.25%
Perry 10 12.50%
Total 80 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 2:15 11:50
Santorum 3:25 12:09
Gingrich 5:17 17:26
Ron Paul 5:21 13:49
Perry 8:44 18:45

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 10 11 5
Gingrich 8 4 3
Santorum 8 7 1
Perry 6 1 3
Ron Paul 6 4 3
Total 38 27 15
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ron Paul's "Ceiling" & Media Bias

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I'm not big on conspiracies. I don't think the media is altogether conspiring to ignore Ron Paul per se, not in a clandestine way at least. Nope, I think the mainstream media is bias of course, but also lazy and cowardly.

It takes no small amount of courage to go against the tide of public opinion, and I cannot imagine how hard it is to do at your office amongst your peers. I've never stepped into a newsroom and seen writers battle with their editors, so I'm not coming from that perspective. I'm just a humble citizen journalist who is pointing out that the media often comes to a particular conclusion and to stand against your colleagues on something you're not particularly passionate about, for a cause you may not even agree with, can seem not only pointless but detrimental.

I cannot imagine many Republicans -- who wanted to go to war with Iraq -- were busy contesting the "evidence" that kept being thrown around no matter how badly it smelt. It fit the narrative that suited their purpose, and to question it is to possibly lose face with peers.

This is why I say it takes courage, because you not only have to question the narrative handed in by people you respect, but you may even have to report it against your own personal bias or worldview's advancement. I think that's what journalism should probably be about, truth above all else, but I cannot say that's the normal human operation.

The other issue is just plain laziness. The AP writes one article, that article is everywhere in syndication. It's what media sites pay for, to be able to use the vast resources of the Associated Press without having to hire a squadron of writers to cover the world. Maybe that's a form of laziness, but then there's the laziness of doing a writeup and not doing your own research and instead relying on wikipedia or just going with popular perception.

The best example was when music composer Maurice Jarre passed away in 2009 and a Dublin college student used the moment to test the media's fact checking diligence when he posted to wikipedia a false and unsourced quote (because it was fake) from Maurice Jarre that was too good to be true. The result was that it was picked up by hundreds of outlets around the world and after a month the student finally came forward fearing they would never figure out that the quote had no basis in reality. Oddly, wikipedia editors were quick to remove it within minutes of its original posting where the journalists never caught or questioned it. (link) I don't have a bone to pick with wikipedia, but it's not hard to imagine volunteer editors pick topics they have a passion about and use it possibly promote their worldview.

So, when I see someone reciting popular dogma about Ron Paul being "unelectable", or having an absolute "ceiling", I don't think they're following directions from their overlords, though I admit it's possible to have a company line "encouraged", I just think it's more plausible that they're being lazy and even more likely: cowards.

It was not so long ago that "...Ron Paul’s ceiling almost certainly remains about where it was four years ago," (WaPo Aug 2011) which is to say 5 to 10%. "Can Ron Paul Break the 10 Percent Ceiling?" (NewsMax Jun '11), which apparently can only be done by softening his message. "Ron Paul...appears to have a ceiling on how much mainstream Republican support he can draw" (AZcentral Nov '11). "But Paul’s libertarian support seems to have a ceiling." (NatJournal May '11).

There's more in December when WaPo decided to rethink their position, and admitted "Ron Paul has expanded his political brand enough to potentially win the Iowa caucuses in two weeks.", but continues, "Beyond that, though, victory is going to be hard to come by" which then cites one of their in-house polls as evidence that Ron Paul's new ceiling is around 25% because of his foreign policy views. (WaPo Dec '11) While not an awful analysis, it certainly lacks a full perspective without presenting any counterarguments whatsoever, such as perhaps other polls or the support he garners from independents switching to the Republican party. It seems a continuation of the storyline they've previously presented, particularly when you consider that their earlier assumption of a low ceiling was proven wrong.

If there's one time to reconsider your position, surely it's when your predictions were dead wrong.

There's gobs & gobs more if you turn on the TV, but the mystifying part is that the media culture is more focused on interpreting the news -- unevenly -- than just delivering it. Somehow it's ignored that the whole point of a campaign is to raise awareness on a nominee's platform, what they believe in. A poll is a basis for how things stand currently, which is based on a campaign's methods, but more nationally, on the media's coverage of the campaign. Delivering a rehashed storyline begins to create self-fulfilling "facts" that can perpetuate falsehoods. "Ron Paul is an isolationist", "Ron Paul is unelectable", "Ron Paul is a kook", the last is perpetuated more frequently by talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Carl Levin, which are in fact repeated by listeners, per my personal experience with family & friends.

There may be a type of revolution happening right before us, if there is then it's a more peaceful revolt than what we've seen in the Arab Spring or at the founding of America. As long as the media decides to continue being lazy and lacking integrity by not offering the full spectrum of facts & possibilities, this is the rope they'll continue to distribute that will be used to hang them. While Rush & Sean Hannity are still the biggest radio shows around, they're numbers have dramatically fallen by an average of around 30% since October. (link) I don't honestly know why, but I'm glad, they represent the unrepentant attitudes that I find repugnant in humanity.

Perhaps the media is increasingly facing a crisis of confidence from its viewers (link), because of the rise in opinion news that we know is based more on interpretation than on an attempt at delivering bare bones fact. Watching MSNBC tonight for the longest I've ever watched it (roughly 3 hours) I saw tons of commercials for MSNBC hosts where it wasn't just an ad to watch their show, but they were delivering their philosophy of higher taxes and paying your fair share. These are the people we trust to deliver unbiased news? No, we know it's biased so it makes sense why the distrust grows. Why would you trust someone you know is merely pandering to your worldview? (Fox News, I'm talking to you also.)

The most important point is that we are all walking journalists. Dissent is welcome. I love Ron Paul, but I'm not afraid to challenge him or dissent against him even if it frustrates my peers or gives ammunition to my enemies. If we don't do our own housecleaning (respectfully), then how can we challenge the elites on any moral high-ground? I don't think it will cost us the war, but instead gives credibility to our convictions to win over people to the cause of liberty.

In the meantime, the media now has to make sense of how someone with a low ceiling managed to grab a close 3rd in Iowa, 2nd in New Hampshire and is surging in South Carolina. Hopefully, a new storyline emerges.

What do you think? Is the media's coverage a product of pure editorial hawkishness, or something else? Dissent is welcome.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Debate Stats: NBC Meet the Press 1-8-2012

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Overall a rather poorly moderated debate any way you slice it. Intent on driving cross-talk rather than creating equal opportunity for the Republican nominees to get their message out, Mitt Romney garnered nearly 28% of all the talking time allotted to candidates. For the 2nd debate in a row Ron Paul was denied opportunities (two on this occasion) to respond to criticisms invoked by his competitors and then was rushed in his final response.

Proving the ineptness of his moderating, David Gregory spent the first 13 minutes out of the overall 51 minutes of the debate talking about electability which created six rebuttals and used three follow-ups. There seems to be far more relevant topics than looking for ways to get the Reds to slice each other up. In the first segment alone Mitt spoke six times, Newt Gingrich five times, Rick Santorum four times, Jon Huntsman four times and Rick Perry twice, and the candidate running in second place in New Hampshire -- the location of the debate where Tuesday's primary is held -- Ron Paul? Once. He spoke once. How's that for relevant moderating?

Of course, Ron Paul only had six speaking turns overall for a grand total of 6:04 (mm:ss) and just under 12% of the overall allotted time. How in the world Jon Huntsman was allowed two more talking turns when he will be resigning from the race as early as Tuesday night is indeed a mystery. Perhaps his last rights? At least Rick Santorum has a case for gaining a heavy chunk of 21% of the total talking time with his recent coup in Iowa, even though he has as good of a chance of winning New Hampshire as I do, there's still a case to be made for him to have a platform for the moment.

Things will get interesting once Huntsman is bounced on Tuesday, and then Rick Perry -- who nearly shuttered after Iowa -- follows suit after South Carolina. Then there will be four, and I suspect Newt or Rick Santorum will not be viable for the long haul without money or a strong organization, let alone a message to rally around that doesn't include bombing your way to peace. Things will be slim by February, and scrutiny of the remaining candidates will be at their peak and then the nation will begin to focus on the real options: elect Obama's counterparts, or elect Ron Paul.

Total Talk %
Romney 14:19 27.74%
Santorum 11:00 21.31%
Gingrich 8:32 16.53%
Huntsman 6:18 12.20%
Ron Paul 6:04 11.77%
Perry 5:23 10.45%
Total 51:38 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 16 25.81%
Santorum 14 22.58%
Gingrich 12 19.35%
Huntsman 8 12.90%
Perry 6 9.68%
Ron Paul 6 9.68%
Total 62 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 2:09 9:09
Santorum 3:38 8:41
Gingrich 5:08 15:45
Huntsman 5:40 14:17
Ron Paul 7:35 12:40
Perry 7:42 10:46

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Santorum 10 1 3
Romney 9 6 1
Gingrich 7 2 3
Huntsman 6 1 1
Perry 5 0 1
Ron Paul 5 1 0
Total 42 11 9
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

ABC Debate Statistics 1/7/2012

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I'm not sure if Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos are anarchists, but they're moderation style seemed to fit the mold. One minute responses to the questions and 30 second responses for rebuttals were the agreed upon rules, so we're told. For the record, of the 42 "questions" (I use quotations, because not all of the questions contained an actual question so much as a prompt to weigh in) 19 of them went over 65 seconds in length, and of the 22 rebuttals a whopping 17 went over 35 seconds with the average response time to all 22 rebuttals coming in at 46 seconds. As a deregulation kind of guy I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be in favor of this style or not. Just kidding, it may prove how regulations only hurt those who follow them.

Pedantics aside, this was a fairly open style of debate and anyone who decided to not take advantage of it cannot be all too irritated with the moderators as it was plain to sense that you were given ample time in your responses to get your platform off your chest. However, it seemed the opportunity to rebuttal was rather inconsistent and dished out arbitrarily rather than on the consistent principle of having one's name invoked.

The debate itself ranged from substantive arguments of foreign policy and the economy, to more fruitless discussions of Federalism regarding contraception, an issue that is not in the news cycle nor specifically a part of any candidate's platform which is why it seemed odd to press Mitt Romney for over two straight minutes and four follow-ups regarding the non-issue. It may have made more sense to me if after Mitt's non-answer and still lacking any philosophical substance to then pose to the rest of the candidates the issue of state's rights vs federal power regarding behavior in the bedroom, but it seemed George was leaning on Mitt as if he were playing Rick Santorum interrogating a Muslim. Too much?

As far as which candidate came out the winner in talking time, Mitt Romney fielded nearly 20 minutes of total talking time, good for over 29% of the overall speaking time allotted to the candidates. Rick Perry really had the short end with 5:20 and only seven turns talking. I expect that number to drastically drop after the South Carolina Primaries all the way to zero. Guess I'm feeling snarky today.

Here's the stats on the ABC debate:

Total Talk %
Romney 19:59 29.58%
Santorum 13:42 20.29%
Ron Paul 11:01 16.31%
Huntsman 9:17 13.75%
Gingrich 8:13 12.18%
Perry 5:20 7.90%
Total 1:07:35 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time.

Turns Talking %
Romney 22 28.21%
Santorum 14 17.95%
Gingrich 12 15.38%
Huntsman 12 15.38%
Ron Paul 11 14.10%
Perry 7 8.97%
Total 78 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Romney 2:57 9:30
Santorum 4:28 12:03
Ron Paul 5:07 11:33
Huntsman 5:17 12:05
Gingrich 5:44 19:57
Perry 10:18 15:46

Qs Responses Follow-ups
Romney 10 7 5
Gingrich 8 3 1
Santorum 8 4 2
Huntsman 8 3 1
Ron Paul 7 4 0
Perry 5 1 1
Total 46 22 10
Note: Qs = Questions; Responses (candidates responding to each other); Followups (moderator following up from the previous question)