January 22, 2007

The split-screen in the 2004 presidential debates helped Bush.

Yet it was the Bush side that wanted a single screen focused on the speaker, precluding reaction shots:
"Republicans thought they knew what they were doing by asking for single-screen, and the Democrats and all the pundits argued that it had hurt Bush because of the split screen. But the data shows that's not true," says Dietram Scheufele, a UW-Madison journalism professor. "It hurt Kerry quite a bit and didn't hurt Bush at all. The pundits didn't live up to reality."...

The study, published in the February issue of the journal Communication Research, put that assertion to the test, as 700 university students were asked to evaluate a five-minute-long debate clip in single screen and split-screen formats. The study was conducted in the two weeks prior to the 2004 election....

"The split-screen debates hurt Kerry and not really Bush," [Scheufele] says. "It was largely a function of what people thought about the two candidates in the first place. Split-screen coverage made Bush supporters more extreme in their support for the president and their opposition to Kerry. Kerry voters, on the other hand, didn't like Bush in the first place, but the split-screen coverage also didn't change much about their support for Kerry."

For Bush, the split-screen format shored up his base and helped him with GOP-leaning undecided viewers.

"When they saw Kerry on split screen and saw his smirks or writing something down in reaction to what Bush said, that produced a much more negative view towards Kerry," he adds. "People who leaned toward Bush in the first place felt even worse about Kerry."
The less Kerry the better!


Anonymous said...

Warning for Sens. Obama, Clinton and Edwards?

The less Kerry the better, indeed.

Yet he remains lurking, lurch-like in the background, still dreaming dreams of relevancy.

Was there an analysis of why the pundits spun the debate so incorrectly? (and why isn't there a link to the scholarly paper in the UW-M news article on the subject?)

The pundits went in with their script decided before the debate actually happened, just as the State of the Union has already been pre-spun as being too little, too late for the Pres. Bush and his lame duckness will only get worse and worse until he's out of office.

Whether that's true or not doesn't matter, he does get the benefit of having Idol as a lead in on the East Coast, folks might actually watch this State of the Union.

(enough rambling, though it might be slightly on topic)

I lied, one more ramble, the debates I'd like to see aren't between the candidates, but between the candidates policy wonks. That way each candidate would show off their putative cabinets, and the actual experts could speak cogently about the issues in their field of expertise, rather than having an over-coached candidate feed soundbites to a jaded public.

A blogging heads style set-up hosted on each candidates' websites would be ideal.

Simon said...

That adds a neat symmetry with the 2000 election. IIRC, absent litigation, if the Florida recount had proceded along the lines Bush wanted, then Gore would have prevailed, and vice versa.

But -- people really react negatively because a candidate made notes?!

DBrooks said...

"But -- people really react negatively because a candidate made notes?!"

It was because he was writing with the wrong end of the pen.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Speaking from experience, it was because he obviously wasn't writing anything and he was pretending to write so as to suppress his urge to laugh. And his smirks were so utterly condescending. He might as well have been sighing. Democrats need to get candidates who can actually listen to others. And who don't viscerally hate non-Northeasterners.

I'll note that this sounds just like the attitude toward negative ads. Everyone says don't go negative, but it works, the audience prefers it because they get info that way, and candidates increasingly rely on them. That's a hint, John Edwards!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Did I pay for that study? If so, how much did it cost me?

WisJoe said...

Your obsession with being critical of Senator Kerry grew tiresome 6 months ago. Most bloggers and commentators wish they had the "relevancy" he has simply as a Senator. I was not a huge fan, but I care about policy more than personality. I think he is more than likely a right honorable person.

Ann Althouse said...

Joe, if he honorable, he'll stay out of the '08 race.

Revenant said...

But -- people really react negatively because a candidate made notes?!

Well, taking notes suggests that you're devoting more energy to figuring out how to snipe at your opponent than you are to making a point of your own. It sort of came across like Bush had a plan and Kerry had nothing but criticisms of Bush -- naturally, this didn't endear Bush's supporters to Kerry. It didn't do anything for Kerry's supporters, either, since most of them already *knew* what they didn't like about Bush's plan, but wanted to hear more from Kerry about how he'd be different.

Anyway, Presidential debates aren't exactly brain surgery or quantum mechanics. It really shouldn't be necessary to take notes in order to remember what your opponent is saying.

Pogo said...

Are studies of university students meaningful for anything at all except how much beer to buy?

That said, I watched only some of the debates. I did begin to hate Kerry and moreso Edwards for their obvious tactic to talk about MARY CHENEY THE LESBIAN (not that there's anything WRONG with that wink wink). Criminey and ish.

And I saw Edwards the pretty but smug Trial Attorney, making millions off of medical non-malpractrice and it made me a little angry. If I saw him today on the street, I'd cross to the other side.

Re: "a right honorable person"
Ask the Swift Vets about that one, Joe.

vbspurs said...

"The split-screen in the 2004 presidential debates helped Bush."


That's surprising to me, because even I was irritated with President Bush's smirks, winks, purses, and moues.

I was at the University of Miami, where if you recall, the first Presidential Debate was held, and everyone in the audience was tittering everytime Dubya pursed his lips in dissatisfaction at Kerry's long-drawn out, boring responses.

But, and this speaks to your vlog body language point, I had once read that someone did a study judging viewer's emotional responses to Peter Jennings' newscasts.

Whenever he frowned, the reaction to a news story or personage, was negative.

Curiously, considering his urbane secular progressivism, he was observed always to perk up and give a broad smile whenever President Reagan was the topic.

ABC viewers, the report said, had a much more positive view of President Reagan, perhaps because of that subliminal body language.

Life is strange.


Anonymous said...

The less Kerry the better!

Whatever. I think the rest of us feel like George W Bush is in charge of a nuclear tipped plane [and it doesn't matter why now of course as millions of lives are at risk] and we are trying to "talk him down". And he's talking smack to the tower, he wants to do a barrel roll, or a fly-by.

No barrel rolls George. Just listen to all those pilot-types in the control tower. And do EXACTLY what they say. Nothing more. Nothing less.

George W Bush is a comedian who's audience is too afraid to laugh*

*possible h/t to HL Mencken for insp.

Brent said...

First, to xwl:

Excellent idea on the debates between the potential cabinet officers and idea-men(women). It would be very easily done on Meet the Press, et al.
But - they must exclude the "smart" ones that are hopelessly addicted to sound bites and company lines: the Albrights and Shumers and Dodds and Hatchs (oh my!).

I am not a huge fan of Tim Russert, but the most exciting and weighty discussions come when a Rahm Emmanuel (when he's really thinking) vs., say, a Ralph Reed. ( I am not a fan of either man, but the correct decisions about whom they represent can be made in just an hour's debate by looking at both of them.

Second - which of the pundits has value today? I mean, from Joe Klein to Chris Matthews to David Brooks - they are wrong morw often than they are right - and this is their JOB!

It's got to be nice to be able to keep your job and columns and TV when your percentage is lower than the worst player in Major League Baseball.

Mortimer Brezny said...

But he's not. He'll get in and he'll go right after Hillary. And he'll be the best Biden he can be.

Sloanasaurus said...

but I care about policy more than personality.

Perhaps, however, President Bush who has the right policy for fighting terror in Iraq and around the world could blow it for all of us because he does not have the personality to keep the country behind him.

Wade_Garrett said...

We get the point, people don't like Kerry. When is this going to officially qualify as old news?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how unbiased a survey like this can be, seeing as how the students went into it knowing the results of the election.

You know what they say: Everybody loves a winner.

Seven Machos said...

We have found the one person in America who supports Kerry, and he has deigned to visit Ann Althouse's job.

Thanks, WisJoe!

DBrooks said...

Hey, don't denigrate WisJoe. I think he has come up with a great slogan for Kerry--"John Kerry, simple relevancy," or, maybe, just "John Kerry, Simple!"

hdhouse said...

i personally enjoyed the shots of bush with that lump in the back of his jacket...

one reason bush didn't take notes is....oh i just can't do it..it is too easy.

i'm just wondering how mr. bush's smirk is doing these days. anyway, good or bad, why should the live audience get to see "reaction shots" and those of us at home not? that smacks of having mr. bush in town for a rally/fundraiser and some of the population not being able to see him because a t-shirt or something.

tjl said...

"people don't like Kerry. When is this going to officially qualify as old news?"

When it finally dawns on Kerry himself that nobody but Theresa likes him. With so many formidable Democrats in the field, it's a mystery why he believes that there are any voters out there who would prefer him. Hillary or Obama or even Edwards all have their strong points; the only thing Kerry has to offer is his colossal sense of entitlement.

And yet there are still people like WisJoe and Naked Lunch who bristle whenever Ann points out the obvious. You would think that lefties, more than anyone, would long for the day that Kerry withdraws from the national scene and deprives Republicans of such an easy target.

hdhouse said...

tjl....people don't like kerry"

hmmmm 50 million plus voted for him. god knows how many actually did vote for him but voter fraud is much another story.

he ran an inept race with very very poor advice against a wartime president and still nearly beat him. can you imagine the landslide today..2 years later?

Wade_Garrett said...

I take all of these election post-mortems with a grain of salt. So long as more people watch American Idol than vote for president, their tastes in tv viewing should probably not be taken very seriously.

Anonymous said...

hmmmm 50 million plus voted for him. god knows how many actually did vote for him but voter fraud is much another story.

Voting against Bush is not the same as voting for Kerry. Just the same as reflexively opposing everything that the current administration does or proposes is not the same as actually having a plan or strategy of your own.

Anonymous said...

Ask the Swift Vets about that one, Joe.

I used to think you guys kind of knew that most if not all of this stuff was garbage. Like only one "Swift Vet" was on Kerry's boat. That this vet criticized Kerry's Bronze Star, after receiving the same Bronze Star himself.

But now I do think you actually believe it. Just think if it was Kerry that got in the "Champagne Unit" with movie stars and pro athletes, where there was almost a zero chance that you would get sent to Vietnam. Even this Bush couldn't manage, deserted his post, and to this day there is not one person that can prove Bush made it to Alabama. Not one. And if you think he did, there are many unclaimed rewards waiting for you.

Steven said...

Naked Lunch --

So, you actually don't know what the Swift Boat Vet ads said?

Oh, yes, there was one ad about the medals, yes. The rest were about Kerry's activities after discharge, about what he said when he was in Vietnam Veterans Against the War. And all the mud he threw at Vietnam vets during that time period is a matter of media record.

Bush's ANG service? How irrelevant. Bush came out and told us from the very beginning that his activities when he was young, before he was born again and laid off the sauce, were not to his credit. Assuming he did skip out of his ANG service (not remotely proved), all that shows is that Bush was telling us the truth about his shameful youth. Wow, you've proven something we already knew, and knew well before the 2000 election!

On the other hand, Kerry did not renounce his youth. He ran on it, constantly bringing up his Vietnam service, telling us to judge him on the basis of something he did in his 20s. But one of the things he did in his 20s was declare that he and his fellow vets were war criminals.

If he told the truth in VVAW, then his Vietnam service was shameful. If he lied in VVAW, his service may have been honorable, but his postwar activities were shameful. Either way, Kerry's only honorable course would have been to disavow the man he was in his 20s. Instead, he ran on "reporting for duty". And he was quite properly savaged for it.