We tend to see what we’re looking for

The presidential debate at Baptist-rooted Belmont University in Nashville on Tuesday night had me looking at the slow-moving clock about half-way through. But then, the post-game shows are often more interesting than the main event.

With remote in hand, I like to surf the various news channels to see if commentators’ impressions of the debate have any resemblance to mine — or to other commentators.

The primary, but certainly useless, post-debate question is: Who won?

But a presidential debate is unlike a sporting event with a final score emblazoned in lights. Election totals will be tallied on Nov. 4; only then is the winner revealed.

But that does not keep politically minded people from debating the debate winner.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board said Sen. McCain won on foreign affairs while Sen. Obama won on the economy.

Others gave Sen. Obama the edge if, for nothing else, not making a big error while in the lead. It’s something like a tie going to the runner.

Politically, most observers I heard or read felt it was a better night for Democratic ticket. But opinions varied widely.

Because the question is irrelevant and no trophies are handed out yet, it really doesn’t matter which observer thought which candidate won.

Intriguing to me, however, were a couple of the network call-in polls. Viewers of MSNBC gave the debate victory to Sen. Obama by a margin of 88 percent.

Yet over at Fox News, 87 percent of the respondents said Sen. McCain won the debate. My guess is that the results would have been the same if the polls had been taken before the debate.

Indeed, we tend to see what we are looking for. That applies not only to politics, but to faith issues as well.

When was the last time one of us read the Bible or heard a sermon and actually changed our mind?


  1. According to the polls, folks are changing their minds every time an event occurs. I find the amount of shift that happens when the events are basically “no-change” events interesting. Assuming Obama has a consensus lead at the moment, traditionally such leads tend to diminish as election date nears. I think Humphrey would have beat Nixon (who had a large margin in the polls at this juncture) if the election date had been a couple of days later.

    Also I’ve noticed an interesting tidbit over on Facebook, which is dominated by young adults. Contrary to news reports, on Facebook, the number in the McCain/Palin camp out-number the number in the Obama/Biden camp by 6 to 1. I’m not sure what that means but the numbers are large enough to mean something.

    Finally, according to AARP Knowledge Management Projections the percentage of the US voting-age Americans who are 50 or older has increased from 36.6% in 2,000 to 41% in 2008.

    I think all that means that nobody should assume anything at this point.

  2. Jon Meacham’s cover story at Newsweek was pretty interesting, especially the reference to Nixon nominee Carswell interpretting the world of Sarah Palin.
    Karl Rove’s response was interesting too.
    I submitted the definitive letter to them for publication–insert smilie face at my expense.
    Look for it; or I’ll share with you soon.
    As i’ve said in matters facing the Alabama Baptist Convention at my blog, their featured speaker, all of us could use some instruction from Tim Tyson in these matters.
    To that end our friend Tony Cartledge is up to speed.

  3. FWIW there is a different Facebook group for Obama (doesn’t have Biden’s name in title so it didn’t come up on my search) that is 6 to 1 in the other direction.

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