CBS Poll: Viewers Feel ‘Nervous’ After Watching Dem Debate

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At the opening of Wednesday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Anthony Mason touted a new poll conducted by the network immediately following Tuesday night’s chaotic Democratic Debate. The survey of “Democratic debate watchers” found that 47% felt “nervous” about the field of 2020 candidates after watching the free-for-all.

“I was worried about you up there,” Mason remarked to fellow co-host Gayle King, who served as one of the debate moderators. “The gunfire was going in both directions and everybody had to duck,” he added. King agreed: “I know, Anthony, there was so much incoming, a couple of times I’m like, ‘Okay, alright, everyone. Senator, Senator, Senator.’”

 

 

Moments later, Mason noted: “In a CBS News poll after the debate, nearly half of viewers we spoke to said they were nervous about the candidates. Almost the same amount said they were optimistic.”

In the poll, respondents were asked to “check all that apply” when confronted with a series of adjectives to describe their feelings about the debate: 47% felt “nervous,” 42% felt “optimistic,” 25% felt “inspired,” 25 % felt “excited,” 16% felt “pessimistic,” and 13% felt “uninspired.”

Another interesting finding was that 69% of viewers thought the candidates spent more of their time “criticizing each other” rather than “making the case for themselves.”

After the poll findings were repeated early in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, King turned to 60 Minutes correspondent John Dickerson and wondered: “Bernie Sanders entered the debate as the frontrunner. After last night's performance, does he remain in that position, do you think?”

In response, Dickerson seemed to channel some of the nervousness of Democratic viewers:

I think so. They all discovered he was the frontrunner in a way....And it felt like one of those disaster films where somebody rummages through the drawer throwing anything....and that was part of the problem, is it was a diffuse kind of yelling at Bernie Sanders....Nobody was able to really prosecute the case against Bernie Sanders....And if you’re unable to stop him, then it’s a good night for him, even though in the aggregate it was a night full of kind of messiness for Democrats.

Things must be bad for Democrats when the media are comparing a debate among the candidates to a “disaster film.”

Here is are excerpts of the February 26 debate coverage:

7:03 AM ET

(...)

ANTHONY MASON: I was worried about you up there. The gunfire was going in both directions and everybody had to duck.

GAYLE KING: I know, Anthony, there was so much incoming, a couple of times I’m like, “Okay, alright, everyone. Senator, Senator, Senator.”  

TONY DOKOUPIL: I think one or two of those people really want to be president, trying hard.

KING: Yeah, and they do. Welcome to CBS This Morning and that’s where we begin. Democrats – Democratic candidates unloaded on each other at last night’s CBS News presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina. The national frontrunner, Senator Bernie Sanders, was repeatedly attacked over his ideas, his record, and his electability. He argued his campaign has momentum and a grassroots movement behind him that can lead Democrats to victory.

MASON: In a CBS News poll after the debate, nearly half of viewers we spoke to said they were nervous about the candidates. Almost the same amount said they were optimistic.

(...)

8:03 AM ET

DOKOUPIL: A CBS News poll taken after the debate shows 47% of viewers came away feeling nervous about the available candidates, while 42% were optimistic. 45% said they were impressed by Sanders’ performance, that’s the largest number for any candidate.

KING: Senior political analyst and 60 Minutes correspondent, that’s John Dickerson, is here, along with CBS News political contributor and Democratic strategist, that’s Joel Payne, joining us at the table to discuss. Last night it was a raucous night, I ask that you keep your answers to a minute and 15 seconds and that you follow the time cues please gentlemen. [Laughter]

John, I’m going to start with you because Bernie Sanders entered the debate as the frontrunner. After last night's performance, does he remain in that position, do you think?

JOHN DICKERSON: I think so. They all discovered he was the frontrunner in a way.

KING: Yes, he had the biggest bull’s-eye on his back last night.

DICKERSON: He did. And it felt like one of those disaster films where somebody rummages through the drawer throwing anything. I mean, they went at him on guns, electability, effectiveness, and that was part of the problem, is it was a diffuse kind of yelling at Bernie Sanders. And so, he was able to stand there and carries on. Nobody was able to really prosecute the case against Bernie Sanders. And if you don’t do that, he’s marching forward. And if you’re unable to stop him, then it’s a good night for him, even though in the aggregate it was a night full of kind of messiness for Democrats.

(...)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Debates Polling Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning Video Gayle King Anthony Mason John Dickerson

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