CNN’s Mary Snow reported after the debate: “Twenty-three registered Democrats came in here undecided. We asked them who they felt performed the best in this debate and they concluded they felt that John Edwards performed the best, with Senator Clinton right behind him. Now of course, this is unscientific, but also the other question posed to them. If the election were held today, who would you vote for? And in that question, John Edwards came in first, Senator Barack Obama second, and Senator Clinton came in third.” The Fox News focus group felt the same way. That’s not how I felt watching the debate. For me, the best cure for developing pro-Edwards leanings is always to actually watch him in action: I find his persona self-righteous and a bit annoying, but the evidence has consistently been that most people don’t feel that way, and this afternoon’s focus groups are no exception.
Incidentally, I wonder about the mid-afternoon debate. This is very convenient for professional political journalists, since it allows us to discharge a work obligation during regular business hours, but it seems awfully inconvenient for the average people who are nominally the audience for these things. I wonder if the scheduling is just a slight post-modern nod at the reality that the chattering class is, in fact, the real audience for these things.