How Carly Fiorina won the JV debate

I didn’t watch it (and chances are neither did you).  But I know she “won.”  How do I know?  Pretty much all the punditocracy said so.  You know who else is good at listening to the punditocracy?  Republican voters who closely follow politics.  I saw a headline on the TV at the gym today about a poll result showing Fiorina “winning” the early debate. I immediately thought of how absurd this is as there’s got to be an incredibly small number of potential voters who actually watched this.  So, I went on-line to check out who was actually polled:

Among Republican and Republican-leaning voters who watched either of the debates or followed coverage of the debates in the news [emphasis mine], Carly Fiorina emerged as the clear winner.
A-ha.  Well it’s easy to decide somebody “won” a debate when that’s what all the talking heads are telling you.  Silly as all this is, though, it does prove something important about debates… what is important is not what happens on the debate stage, but what the media thinks is important about the debate.  Sure, they are related, but not at all the same thing.  The winner of a debate is almost invariably the person the media thinks did the best job (in some cases, that is shaped by early, likely unreliable polls).  So, this is not about any type of ideological bias, but, a great example of how the media actually can play a very powerful role in shaping political perceptions.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to How Carly Fiorina won the JV debate

  1. rgbact says:

    Actually, more important is to have a pithy line that is able to viral in video clips. Thats the essence of winning debates. Carly had a good response on Trump, saying she hadn’t gotten a call from Bill Clinton, like Trump had. If thats the only clip people end up seeing….she must’ve won.

    Carly’s been to most intelligently combative of anyone so far. And thats not just in the debates.

  2. Jon K says:

    I actually sat through most of the kids table debate. She won, but that is because she was a big fish in a small pond. None of the other candidates came off as astute, presidential, or confident compared to her. Yes, the coverage is driving why people who didn’t watch it say she won, but she was head and shoulders against the others. When your competition is Bobby Jindal, Jim Gilmore, Santorum, and Lindsay Graham it is hard not to be the best candidate. That said Graham was also excellent. He knows he is not going to be president, but he still had the balls to say that we need more troops in Iraq and Syria.

    I pretty much blame Obama for the emergence of ISIS because his refusal to keep forces in Iraq caused the country to destabilize. The US presence was critical to keeping the shite and suni factions keeping their promises and working together. The very day we pulled out Malaki started making moves against sunnis. I think Obama’s unwillingness to handle the situation in Iraq and Syria (he’s pretty much decided to kick the can to the next president because he is unwilling to deploy advisers and special forces that are necessary to paint targets and make our airstrikes effective) is the most serious threat to US national interests and to containing Iran and establishing stability in the region. It was nice to hear Graham actually speak the truth and damn the consequences.

    • R. Jenrette says:

      Isis was fueled by all the Sunnis thrown out of the Iraqi government formed by the Bush administration soon after the invasion part was done and the statue fell. Bush/Cheney had their people get rid of anyone who had been in power in Saddam’s government. Pressure from the Obama administration did not achieve any reconciliation between the Shites and the Sunnis either. This outcome was predicted by many experts on the Middle East even before the invasion.
      The Bush administration negotiated and signed the agreeement by which American troops agreed to leave by a stated time. By the time of leaving the Iraqi government wanted them out.
      The U.S. had recognized Iraq as a sovereign nation.

      • Jon K says:

        that isn’t exactly correct. after the surge and the anbar awakening al-qaeda in iraq had been decimated. sunni and shite factions were making progress on creating a stable government. we were important glue in keeping the two sides honest and working together. leon panetta himself said that the day we pulled out was the day that everything started to fall apart. Our military, and many of Obama’s advisers, had told him we needed a residual force to continue training the iraqi military and for counter-terrorism and for the influence we were able to exert. The Iraqi government wanted to negotiate a status of forces agreement. We had a disagreement about immunity for US forces in Iraq, and instead of negotiating and figuring out a solution Obama decided he’d had enough and abandoned negotiations. This was against the advice of experts on Iraq, against the advice of his military commanders, and as I said Leon Panetta and Bob Gates have both made clear in their memoirs that it was one of the worst decisions of the Obama administration. That is just the facts of the matter. Yes Bush’s war was a bad move, but we had finally stabilized the situation and then Obama pulled the rug out. It was the president’s decision to ignore the advice of experts, declare “victory”, and wash his hands of a war he never liked.

        Notice how he has significantly slowed the US pullout of Afghanistan. That is because he knows if he does the same thing he did in Iraq that will fall apart just as quickly.

      • Jon K says:

        if you are interested in the history of what happened watch
        it is the best recounting of what happened with interviews with experts and obama administration officials including Panetta.

  3. R. Jenrette says:

    I did watch Carly Fiorino’s interview on Fox News Sunday. I liked her idea of getting rid of most tax breaks and all the complications which she said favored the wealthy but she didn’t say if she favored a progressive income tax, a sales tax or what for the taxes she would need. There was no sentimentalism. She was critical of Trump and of course Trump, when he heard of this, made his barely veiled threats against her for it.
    She seemed more capable of being President that any of the others in demeanor and had a policy idea.

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