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We had a pretty good Liveblog for the first Presidential debate — even though (or perhaps especially because) I (Greg) was not there — so we’re going to try it again. This story goes up at 11:00 a.m., leaving plenty of hours ahead of time for trash talk. Within reasonable bounds of trashiness, go for it.
The debate starts at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. or, more likely, a few minutes later than that. Then, the network analysis begins, until at least 8:00. It will be tempting to listen to the snap polls. Remember: it is very important that you not pay attention to the snap polls! Specifically, beware of the CNN/ORC snap poll — and not simply because it is apparently the work of orcs, who may be masters of crafting the cursed dagger (or, frankly, whatever) but who seem to be lousy at survey methodology.
The results of the CNN snap poll will come from the remaining members in a “panel study” — same group being surveyed more than one time, so that we can see how the same people respond to different events. The problem is that, however the original panel came about, it seems to be far more white, southern, old, conservative, and — well, there’s no other word for it — Republican than one would expect if one were trying to get a sense of, say, debate watchers, let alone likely voters (let alone registered voters) overall.
CNN finally told us (in tiny type on a page that no one reads) that the sample, was, in fact, eight points more Republican and eight points less Democratic than the usual samples they’re getting around now, so you could take the precaution of subtracting eight points from Romney and adding eight points to Obama’s score, but that is not really how things are supposed to work. Even then, after all, you’re dealing with much older Democrats and older Republicans than most voters — and who knows how that affects things? The best thing to do is to flat out ignore it.
CNN’s going to make that hard for you to do, though, because when they announce it they’re going to say “this is how voters reacted to today’s debate” or something like that, giving no indication that this sample is nowhere near representative of the voting population –as CNN well knows! — so you will just have to be strong. Trust your own impressions, if you happen to have any.