During their coverage of yesterday’s presidential debate, CNN included a graph of “audience reaction” at the bottom of the screen.

The graph contained three lines that were supposed to judge the reaction of the audience, second by second, to what the candidates were saying. One line was for Independents, one for Dems and one for Republicans.

I found out today that the “audience” being tracked was actually 32 likely voters here in Columbus Ohio.

I hunted around and found this CNN transcript as verification:

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (speaking from Columbus, OH): The group we have assembled tonight, the panel, consists of students and a woman who works in insurance, the bartender, an unemployed machinist, homemaker, a teacher, a retired 62-year-old man, a plant manager, and much more. We’ve got 32 people seated here and the breakdown roughly equally, roughly. Registered independent, registered Democrat, registered Republican.

I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as being “registered independent” in Ohio- unless you just haven’t voted in a primary. But I’ll give Soledad a break.

It’s really no surprise though. Columbus is the test market for all kinds of products (mmm… mcRib) because it does a good job of representing the rest of the country with its demographic mix.

  • Lesley Boulant

    Yes, you can be registered as an independent and you are then not able to vote in the primary.

    As an Obama supporter, I was very surprised at the reaction of the dial testers. Along with the rest of the country (according to all of the national polls), I felt Obama solidly won the debate. He seemed clear and concise in his plans for healthcare and his base ideals for reviving our economy (job creation via green jobs, tax breaks for the middleclass, etc.). The panel, mostly white, working-class, would seem to benefit from Obama’s plan. However, being raised in a small town in Ohio, I couldn’t help but think this was a race issue with these people. I have been talking to any working-class voter that will listen to my support of Obama for several weeks now (grocery stores, restaurants, bus stops, etc.) And I have heard several poor, white voters say that they will never vote for a black man.

    Several weeks ago, before the polls had turned toward an Obama victory, I voiced my concerns to my brother, “Save these people from themselves.” He then responded, “F#%k ‘em, Rome fell.”

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