Debate Time Follow-up: The CNN debate

Apparently there was another Democratic debate last night. Based on the transcript analysis by the New York Times and the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll numbers, I’ve run the numbers again. Last debate, as I blogged, I found that the amount of speaking time of each candidate was ridiculously closely correlated with their latest poll numbers at the time, to the extent that it was impossible to believe that that was not planned. (For stats people, r > .95). That is, MSNBC is skewing the elections and endowing polls (i.e. an easy news source) with more importance by giving more free exposure to the leading candidates.

Yesterday’s debate, a CNN debate, did not show quite as high a correlation (r = .73), with the latest poll numbers at the time of the debate. That’s still quite high. Obama spoke the most, although Clinton still leads by quite a bit in the polls. On the other hand, Obama spoke for more than 3 times as much time as Kucinich, the candidate who spoke the least. The correlation is still implausibly high if we believe the speaking time was intended to be allocated evenly, but perhaps it’s not so high as to believe that CNN used a formula based on poll numbers to decide speaking time for each candidate (as I believe MSNBC did).

Next time MSNBC and CNN have debates, we will start to see whether we can tell from the numbers that MSNBC and CNN have different policies for how they allocate speaking time.

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