The third live chat room session in a series of four to match the number of presidential debates drew thousands of people from across the country. As President Barack Obama and GOP Candidate Mitt Romney sparred across the stage in a town hall style forum, so too did the chatters who took the time to type their thoughts.
So what did they say?
First it's fair to say that people came to the chat room armed with their preconceived notions about who they support. It begs the question do these debates matter? In my opinion as a chat room moderator it matters so far as at least there is conversation about specific issues and isn't this what democracy is about, deciding how to tackle the issues that affect us as a society.
To keep the conversation germane to the topic points of the debate, moderators were set up in Detroit, Boston and Atlanta. Our job was point out the issues and let the chat fly. We posed poll questions to help clarify opinion.
First chat poll: At this point in the campaign, who has more to lose in this debate? 70% Obama, 30% say Romney
FIRST TOPIC IN THE DEBATE: NEW COLLEGE GRAD LANDING A JOB. Both candidates say the key is creating the environment for jobs but the majority of chatters say Obama offered more details
Chat poll: Who seems more comfortable in this forum? 57% Romney, 43% Obama
DEBATE TOPIC, GAS PRICES: Chat split down the middle on who can get a handle on this. Some debate about coal and energy. Romney's comment about gas being a 1.86 when Obama took office spurs a response from Obama about when the economy ins a free fall gas prices are low, do we want to back to that. Chatters have a field day with this on both sides.
Poll: Which Candidate will the oil companies vote for? 82% Romney, 18% Obama
DEBATE TOPIC: TAXES -- both candidates say they will lower taxes for the middle class, but the majority in the chat room do not believe they will actually do that.
Poll: Romney says he will lower classes on the middle class -- do you believe him? 51% No, 49% Yes
Poll: Obama says he has lowered taxes on the middle class, is this true? 60% No, 40% Yes
IN THE MEANTIME WHEN THINGS GOT HEATED about taxes, pensions and on -- getting the candidates out of their chairs and into each other's space -- the tension seemed to also escalate the number of chat comments. It's worth noting that the comments became more partisan and visceral in conjunction with terse dialogue between the candidates.
Poll: What's a bigger problem paying taxes or government waste? 86% waste, 14% taxes
DEBATE TOPIC -- THE CANDIDATES SEGUE INTO GOVERNMENT CUTS ON THE HEAL OF TAXES AND THE ISSUE OF BIG BIRD COMES UP.
Poll: Is the Big Bird card over played? 74% yes, 26% no
Poll: Do you think PBS should not be federally funded? 62% yes, 38% no
Poll: Halfway through the debate, who is winning? 57% Romney, 43% Obama
DEBATE TOPIC: WOMEN'S WAGES. The dominant strain in the chat room is everyone is hurting and we all need jobs.
Poll: Who better answered the question on women's wages? 53% Obama, 47% Romney
Debate Topic: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROMNEY AND GEORGE BUSH? In the chat there are lucid points being made all over the place pointing out that Romney will do better on trade issues but worse on civil rights issues, Obama not improving the situation to he inherited a giant mess.
But then the poll answer:
Poll: Does George W's presidency matter in this election? 76% no, 24% yes
DEBATE TOPIC: THE CANDIDATES TALK ABOUT TRADE ISSUES AND ROMNEY TALKS ABOUT CHINA cheating on currency and how he will crack down on it. Obama makes reference to Romney moving jobs over there during his days and a private investor. In the chat, people view China as a problem.
Poll: What is China to the U.S.?
59% a problem, 20% an opportunity, 11% an enemy, 11% an ally
If we owe China billions can Romney really get tough on Chinese export/import practices? 59% yes, 41% no
Who is better to deal with China? Romney 59%, Obama 41%
DEBATE TOPIC: ARE YOU BETTER OFF THAN YOU WERE 4-YEARS AGO? The candidates spar and so the chatters and the blame game about who is responsible ensues. But the majority of those who answer is no. There is a call for more detail on Romney's five point plan.
Poll: Are you better off than you were four years ago? 66% no, 24% yes, 10% same
DEBATE TOPIC: IMMIGRATION - no one chats about it in the room. Wonder why? Too politically incorrect?
But the poll question:
Poll: Is immigration an issue in your community? 66% yes, 34% no
Poll: Where are you from? 47% south, 28% east, 27% midwest, 3% west
DEBATE TOPIC: HOW DO YOU CONVINCE COMPANIES TO SET UP MANUFACTURING HERE ? Both men get into jobs plan and then a right turn as Romney pushes Obama on releasing his investment portfolio, Obama jabs with mine is not as big as yours. The chatters never weigh in on manufacturing -- just levy lobs at each other about who is truthful and who is not.
DEBATE TOPIC: EMBASSY ATTACK IN LIBYA Obama take offense at accusations his administration covered anything up. Do people care?
Poll: Is the dialogue about the attack in Libya a political issue or real question of Obama's leadership? 68% real issue, 32% politically motivated
DEBATE CLOSE: WHO ARE YOU? Romney closes with I care about 100% of the people. Obama for the first time uses the 47% argument and he gets the last word in as the debate closes. In the chat room, people react to 47% reference with shock, awe and so what.
Poll: Who won the debate: Romney 56%, Obama 44%
** The polls in the chat room are not scientific or authenticated. Questions were posed in the chat room and the readers were able to vote once. **