Who won the Republican debate?

Whomever the media decides did over the next day or two.  Interpreting debates–especially in primaries– may be where the media actually directly affect campaigns more than just about anywhere else.  Lynn Vavreck:

Can debates like the one tonight move poll results? Yes, but not in the way you might think.

In 2004, Kim Fridkin and a team of scholars at Arizona State University ran an experiment. They showed some people an entire presidential debate as it was happening, while others saw the debate plus 20 minutes of post-debate media coverage by different news organizations. Some news outlets covered John Kerry more favorably than George W. Bush, and some did the opposite.

People’s assessments of who won the debate — and their evaluations of the candidates more generally — were affected by which media outlet they were assigned to watch after the debate. The favorability of the coverage changed voters’ minds about the debate they had just seen only moments before.

Even interested and attentive voters are swayed by how reporters frame and summarize events.

The takeaway? The candidates’ performances tonight are important (as are their policy positions, of course), but the news coverage of the debate might matter more than the actual event.

So, who won?  It doesn’t matter what me or anybody else thinks right now  In all likelihood “pack journalism” will give us a near-consensus soon, and then we’ll know.  Early indications are that reporters liked Rubio and Kasich, so we’ll have to see just how this all plays out.  More later.

Photo of the day

I’m vacating today, but you at least get a cool photo.  This is real and awesome:

This image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away.
Credits: NASA/NOAA

Experts vs. Republicans

I’m a big believer in cue-taking.  Even if it seems you spend all your time reading and researching something, you cannot be an expert on that many things.  What I’ve learned to do is figure out who I can rely on for smart, sensible analysis and generally go with it.  And, in any area, I will always prefer the information from dispassionate analysts and experts than those who have a clear political stake in the matter.  On the Iran deal, this could not be more clear.  On one side we’ve got the vast majority of those who study and understand International conflict; on the other, we’ve got Republican politicians.  Bill Ayers nicely sums up this dynamic:

I still think that what I said then was largely true – we’re not having a debate or a discussion about the agreement, we’re simply seeing a lot of tribal flag-waving and fear-mongering by people who, consciously or otherwise, have an identity stake in the game. Dispassionate analysis is hard to come by.

Which is why we should be paying special attention in this case to those people for whom dispassionate analysis is their stock in trade. Some members of Congress may not like it, but there really is scientific work done around issues of international relations and conflict between nations. A lot of very smart people have spent the past several decades building a real base of knowledge about how conflict, power, and arms control work. They have done so, to a large degree, under the rules of science, including falsifiability and replicability of hypotheses and peer review. These are not political hacks, nor are they paid large sums of money for their conclusions.

So what are these people saying? Increasingly, the voices of scholars of international conflict are repeating the same points, to whit: the “Iran nuclear deal” is the best that can be achieved and is better than all of the alternatives. [emphasis mine]David Lake of UCSD has chimed in on this, as has Steve Saideman. Pete Trumbore found and helped broadcast an excellent piece by one of the deans of the field, Graham Allison. A number of prominent scholars have weighed in on Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog.

All of this work, of course, is being dismissed by those who have an ideological, political, or identity reason to reject the deal. Most of it, in fact, isn’t even being read by critics, despite being readily accessible.

Hey, I’m no expert on international conflict, but it doesn’t take one (nor a rocket scientist) to realize who you should be listening to on such matters.  And it’s pretty clear folks like those above not Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, or the gang on Fox News.  Ayers continues by talking about the last time we didn’t listen to the actual experts:

Where have we seen this story before? Shortly after the start of the Iraq war, 850 experts signed an open letter predicting that the war would be a disaster, one of the worst mistakes of American foreign policy in decades. That list included many of the most prominent names in the field, including David Lake, David Laitin, Charles Kupchan, Louis Kriesberg, John Mueller, and many more. Many of these had said the same thing before the war started…

So perhaps, before we rush to a new war with Iran (which is clearly what some of the negotiated agreement’s critics want), we should stop and think for a moment. We’ve seen this tune before. We don’t have to blunder into yet another crisis blindly. There is real expertise we can turn to. I have no expectation that the blowhards on TV and Capitol Hill will do so. But maybe some of us ordinary Americans might.

Or, you can just believe whatever Charles Krauthammer tells you.  He’s got nothing but your best interests at heart.

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