Polling numbers in the presidential debates
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 18:10
By most people’s calculations, Romney won the first presidential debate. Did it help him where he needed it?
As of this writing, Romney is ahead in national polls. Despite stellar job numbers, the former governor of Massachusetts is ahead of the sitting president in some polls in important states like Ohio and Florida.
Pew Research released a poll with striking numbers.
“Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama,” the poll said. “He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month.”
Although the debate happened on Wednesday, Pew Research’s poll did not come out until Monday. Between those dates, the job numbers came in revealing the first unemployment rate below 8 percent during Obama’s term. The poll was conducted after those numbers came out.
This debate was the most watched first debate since Reagan and Carter debated in 1980.
“Viewership to [the] night’s debate was up 28 percent compared to the first presidential debate in 2008 between then Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain,” said Nielsen in a press release.
It is unlikely that so many people heard about, or understood the importance of, the jobs numbers.
For Romney, the win was like a loud fart in a quiet room. His campaign had been flailing, with “47 percent” and generally poor performance in key swing states. His debating, however, was a shock. It was a surprise no one was expecting and people just had to talk about. The jobs numbers, on the other hand, deal with much more complicated material.
The jobs report included many things, not just the drop to 7.8 percent unemployment. The economy also added 114,000 jobs and numbers from previous months were revised. The first bit is obvious good news, but some people might not understand what it means. The second item also looks good but might seem small to the uninformed. The last piece of information is really confusing.
Revisedsounds like a mistake was made. It was, sort of. The release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, in the very last paragraph of the release, “The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised from +141,000 to +181,000, and the change for August was revised from +96,000 to +142,000.” So what?
Does that mean these numbers released on Friday can be trusted? Was the economy better before the debate, too? WAS IT ALL A CONSPIRACY?!?
Numbers are always revised. The BLS always revises numbers. Those numbers come in just a few days after the end of the month and are surprisingly accurate for what they are. According to Reuters, BLS numbers are 96.6 percent accurate. As more data comes in, the picture gets more complete. The early numbers help to show a window into economic activity, albeit a cloudy one. Traders and economists know the numbers will be revised, but they work with what they’ve got.
Now YOU know about the jobs numbers, but most people don’t. And what they do hear is Jack Welch saying that they’ve been manipulated by Obama’s “Chicago guys.” So any press Obama got about the numbers was not good. At least the press to the actual voting public.