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Week 1: Style article - LA Times article model
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<h1>Here's how much (or how little) debates actually matter-in 7 cool charts - The Washington Post</h1>
<a class="original" href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/08/06/heres-how-much-or-how-little-debates-actually-matter-in-7-cool-charts/">The Washington Post</a> &middot; by <span class="author">Kevin Schaul</span>
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<p><span class="firstChar">F</span>or all the drama that might&#160;unfold in Thursday night&#8217;s&#160;debate, history tells us that it&#8217;s unlikely to have a huge&#160;impact on the polls &#8212; though it could matter for a candidate or two.</p>
<p>The question of whether debates really matter in presidential politics has been examined before (<a href="http://pci.missouri.edu/doc/do-presidential-debates-matter.pdf">University of Missouri</a>, <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2012/ten_miles_square/do_presidential_debates_really039413.php">Washington Monthly Magazine</a>, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/10/03/what-political-scientists-know-about-debates/">The Washington Post</a>, <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/first-debate-often-helps-challenger-in-polls/">FiveThirtyEight</a>). The general consensus is that their effect on polls is, if any, minimal &#8212; especially late in the general election, when polarized voters are largely decided and hard to move.&#160;That&#8217;s not <em>necessarily</em> the case during primary season, though, when&#160;&#160;debates can serve as an introduction for lesser-known candidates.</p>
<p>We wanted to put all these ideas to the test to try to gauge whether Thursday night&#8217;s&#160;debate could have any significant polling impact on an incredibly fractured and broadly unknown Republican field.</p>
<p>Our analysis looks back at the &#8220;winners&#8221; and &#8220;losers&#8221; of each 2012 Republican presidential debate, according to The Fix, &#160;and cross-references their performances with how each candidate was polling before and after each debate. (We <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/08/04/boy-was-i-wrong-about-donald-trump-heres-why/">are all about accountability here</a>, after all.)</p>
<p>Some appeared to gain&#160;momentum after a strong showing, while others lost ground after a Fix-rated losing performance. But in sticking with the running theory that debates don&#8217;t really matter, most candidates saw no change at all. And even for those who did see a change, it&#8217;s impossible to say that it was definitely because of their debate performances.</p>
<p>With that said,&#160;here&#8217;s a broad overview of where all the candidates stood during the 2012 primary:</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-01.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<p>&#160;</p>
<div><strong>Where debates may have mattered</strong></div>
<p><strong>Herman Cain &#8212; &#8220;Winner&#8221; of Oct. 11 debate</strong></p>
<p>The Fix <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/republican-debate-winners-and-losers/2011/10/11/gIQAeBsudL_blog.html">called Herman Cain a &#8220;winner</a>&#8221;&#160;of the Oct. 11 debate. His catchy 9-9-9 economic plan was mentioned 12 times in the debate. And indeed, he earned his highest polling numbers of the primary shortly after the event.</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-1.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<p><strong>Rick Santorum &#8212; &#8220;Loser&#8221; of Feb. 22 debate (and Mitt Romney as &#8220;winner&#8221;)</strong></p>
<p>Santorum&#8217;s late-January surge ended days after a poor showing in a Feb. 22 debate. He led the Republican field with an average of 33.6 percent in five polls leading up to the debate. Santorum&#8217;s average dropped to 25.6 percent in five polls following <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/arizona-republican-debate-winners-and-losers/2012/02/22/gIQAsKkVUR_blog.html">the rough debate</a> &#8211; an eight-point fall.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/arizona-republican-debate-winners-and-losers/2012/02/22/gIQAsKkVUR_blog.html">The Fix also said Mitt Romney was a &#8220;winner&#8221; of</a><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/arizona-republican-debate-winners-and-losers/2012/02/22/gIQAsKkVUR_blog.html">&#160;the debate</a>, and the eventual GOP nominee&#8217;s poll numbers from the&#160;time&#160;reflected that description.</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-2.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<p>&#160;</p>
<p><strong>Newt Gingrich &#8212; &#8220;Winner&#8221; of Jan. 16 and Jan. 19 debates</strong></p>
<p>The former House speaker&#160;strung together <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/south-carolina-republican-debate-winners-and-losers/2012/01/16/gIQAFvLT4P_blog.html">a series</a> of <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/south-carolina-republican-debate-winners-and-losers/2012/01/19/gIQAT2GOCQ_blog.html">well-reviewed debate performances</a> in the middle of January. His national polling average briefly rose toward the end of the month before falling for the rest of the race.</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-3.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<p>&#160;</p>
<p><strong>Mitt Romney &#8212; &#8220;Winner&#8221; of Jan. 8 debate (and Newt&#160;Gingrich as&#160;&#8220;loser&#8221;)</strong></p>
<p>Romney&#8217;s national polling average jumped by more than six points <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/new-hampshire-gop-debates-winners-and-losers/2012/01/08/gIQA8efGjP_blog.html">following his &#8220;winner&#8221; performance</a> in the Jan. 8 debate.</p>
<p>This example is imperfect, though; Newt Gingrich, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/new-hampshire-gop-debates-winners-and-losers/2012/01/08/gIQA8efGjP_blog.html">declared a&#160;</a><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/new-hampshire-gop-debates-winners-and-losers/2012/01/08/gIQA8efGjP_blog.html">&#8220;loser&#8221;</a><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/new-hampshire-gop-debates-winners-and-losers/2012/01/08/gIQA8efGjP_blog.html">&#160;of the Jan. 8 debate</a>, held his polling&#160;numbers&#160;mostly steady over the days following.</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-4.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<div><strong>Where debates didn&#8217;t matter</strong></div>
<p><strong>Newt Gingrich &#8212; &#8220;Winner&#8221; on Dec. 10, &#8220;loser&#8221; on Dec. 15</strong></p>
<p>Newt Gingrich&#8217;s slide in December doesn&#8217;t appear to be related to his debate&#160;performances. His numbers were decreasing before Dec. 10 &#8212; and all four polls shown between the debates include responses taken before Dec. 10.</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-5.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<p>&#160;</p>
<p><strong>Rick Perry &#8212; &#8220;Loser&#8221; of Nov. 9 debate (and Newt Gingrich as &#8220;winner&#8221;)</strong></p>
<p>Rick Perry had his&#160;&#8220;oops&#8221;&#160;moment in the Nov. 9 debate. The Fix declared him a&#160;&#8220;loser&#8221;&#160;of the event, but his polls &#8212; which had already plummeted &#8212; actually stayed&#160;fairly steady afterwards.</p>
<p>Gingrich was a&#160;&#8220;winner&#8221;&#160;in the Nov. 9 debate. His numbers did increase after the debate, but they were already on the rise (that Nov. 10 poll you see marked below began fielding responses the day before the debate).</p> <img src="https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2015/08/2300-debateworth-6.jpg&amp;w=480" alt="image" />
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<p>To sum up, we found that the running theory on debates&#8217; effect on the polls is probably right: A&#160;massive majority showed almost no change or changes within standard polling margins of error.</p>
<p>To be sure, there&#160;are&#160;other factors at play here &#8212; including the relative&#160;irrelevance&#160;of early polling, the media&#8217;s role in polling surges &#8212; e.g. picking debate&#160;&#8220;winners&#8221;&#160;and&#160;&#8220;losers&#8221; in the first place (cough, FIX, cough) &#8212; and a reminder that correlation does not&#160;necessarily mean&#160;causation.</p>
<p>But &#8212; and there&#8217;s always a but &#8212; there&#160;does appear to be evidence that some primary candidates, in some very specific cases, can gain traction after a great debate performance. Whether that&#8217;s due to the debates themselves, though, is far from certain.</p>
<p><em><strong>Note:</strong> We&#8217;ve only included polls from trusted firms conducted via live phone. We also excluded polls of &#8220;likely voters&#8221; since this can be difficult to forecast so far from Election Day. Charts show polling end date (the last day &#8220;in the field&#8221;).</em></p>
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