Dial Panel Weighs In On Palin and Biden Debate

Dial Panel Weighs In On Palin and Biden Debate

During the vice presidential debate between Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin last week, CBS and Nielsen tracked real-time reactions to the candidates from a panel of uncommitted, registered voters who allowed CBS and Nielsen to capture their real-time reactions to the V.P. debate. However, CBS notes that in many cases, the panelists were “leaning” towards the Obama-Biden ticket.

Watch CBS’s analysis.

As they watched the debate, panel members turned a dial between 0 and 100 to indicate their reactions to the candidates’ discussion. 100 indicates a “very positive” response, 0 corresponds with a “very negative” response, and 50 is neutral. Nielsen calculated the average of the 44 respondents’ responses. The panel, and its results, are not part of CBS’s election polling, and the panel is not large enough to be statistically significant according to Nielsen’s standards.

The panel’s overall most positive response came during Biden’s discussion of ending the war in Iraq, at roughly 42 minutes into the debate.  The least positive responses of the night came just moments later, during Sarah Palin’s comments on Iraq.

Palin’s high point came early in the debate (5:00), when she discussed the economic bail-out bill approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week.  Her call for better cooperation between Democrats and Republicans (88:52) also triggered some of her most positive responses.

Biden’s lowest response came during his discussion of same-sex benefits at approximately 36 minutes into the debate.

Respondents of all ages showed largely similar responses to the candidates’ comments.  However, panelists aged 55-99 occasionally deviated from the norm, registering more positive responses than panelists between the ages of 18-34 and 35-54 when Biden discussed the policies he would enforce if called upon to fill in as president (approximately 68:12), Dick Cheney’s role as vice president (approximately 77:00), and nuclear weapons control (approximately 59:00).

Panelists aged 18-34 responded more positively than older panelists when Palin offered her take on same-sex marriage benefits (approximately 37:12) and discussed Iraq exit strategies (39:16).

The 22 men and 22 women on the panel had largely similar responses to the debate.

Panelist responses were measured at CBS’s TV City research facility in Las Vegas, using Nielsen technology.

View complete data from CBS and Nielsen’s first debate response panel.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings in The Boston Globe and Media General.