Sam Boyd

Sam Boyd is a former assistant web editor at the Prospect

Recent Articles

DID I MISS MCCAIN'S FIRST TERM AS PRESIDENT?

The RNC has a hilarious new ad out resurrecting the experience attack on Obama : There are some obvious problems here: McCain has no more executive experience than Obama, and he's done much worse at the biggest executive test either has ever faced -- running a presidential campaign (recall how his collapsed completely last summer). And, of course, unless I somehow repressed a memory of McCain's first term as president, he also hasn't faced a crisis in the Oval Office's magic thinking chair either (maybe Bush lets him borrow it?). Seriously though, I can't see an experience attack working at this point. More than 50 percent of voters are ready to vote for Obama, even knowing how little experience he has, and he's generally though to have demonstrated throughout the campaign a steadiness and thoughtfulness which are the very opposite of the fears an experience attack evokes. More people say they trust him on the issues and he does well on the "ready to be president" question. (See lots...

What Are Those Squiggly Lines on CNN Telling You?

Viewers of the presidential debates on CNN have a novel feature on their screen -- a box at the bottom showing the real-time reactions of a focus group of undecided voters. Should we take it seriously?

Viewers of the presidential and vice-presidential debates on CNN this year have a novel feature on their screen -- a box at the bottom showing the real-time reactions of a focus group of undecided voters. The results are undeniably bewitching, even for those who don't believe them. "I knew it was completely unreliable and irrelevant," wrote screenwriter Nora Ephron at Huffington Post , "and yet my heart sank and rose according to it." The visual is the product of a focus-group technique known as dial-testing. Dial-testing relies on hand-held dials that can be turned to register positive and negative reactions in real time. Participants in the focus group -- 30 is a typical size -- sit together and are instructed to continually adjust the dial to reflect how they react to a word, phrase, or sentence. CNN has seized on the visual power of dial-testing data -- the positions of each dial are aggregated and the resulting numbers are plotted as a line on a graph with the vertical axis...

MAKING DICK CHENEY LOOK GOOD.

From the AP: Palin pre-empts state report, clears self in probe Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin , campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing. In other news, Phoebe and I have conducted a thorough investigation of typos on the site and determined that they never happen. --Sam boyd

IGNORE WHO "WON" THE DEBATE.

Christopher Orr highlights some numbers from the insta-polls after last night's debate that are even more favorable to Obama than the overall "who won the debate" figures: Those surveyed thought Obama was more intelligent than McCain by 57 - 25 and expressed himself more clearly by 60 - 30. Obama reversed a prior weakness as well, leading in the "stronger leader" category 54 - 43. McCain, for his part, prevailed in the categories you'd rather lose: "attacked more" (a whopping 63 - 17) and "more like a typical politician," which he took by 16 points. But the real killer looks to be in the category that doomed the last two Democratic presidential nominees: likeability. Those polled by CNN found Obama more likeable by a devastating margin of 65 to 28 percent. I don't have comparable numbers from past races at my fingertips, but I think it's safe to say that no candidate who has been substantially less likeable on television than his opponent has won the presidency in over thirty years...

HEARD IT...

Especially on foreign policy, this debate is deeply repetitive of the previous two debates, even though the questions are supposedly more diverse since they come from ordinary people (maybe that's because they were all screened by Tom Brokaw ). For McCain it's that he opposed sending troops to Lebanon, that Obama opposes the surge, and that Obama wants defeat in Iraq (also sometimes that we need a surge in Afghanistan and Obama wants to invade Pakistan). For Obama it's that McCain supported the war, we have to end the war in Iraq, and we need more troops in Afghanistan (and sometimes he says McCain wants to invade Iran). It's not that surprising that the candidates are trying to emphasize a few basic points -- it's what politicians do -- but given that the debate audiences must overlap significantly, it's kinda boring to repeat the same talking points over and over. I know most voters don't pay as much attention as I do, but I think they still must pick up how repetitious this debate...

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