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Debate Matters

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The conventional wisdom about the gubernatorial debate is that it wouldn’t matter because it was scheduled for a Friday night, competing with high school football and the baseball playoffs and Texas-OU weekend. But Belo, the sponsoring organization, promoted it big-time, and early indications are that the debate finished either first or second in its time slot in the four major media markets where it aired (Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio)–and that’s where the votes are. (I am relying on word of mouth, not hard numbers.) If the debate did indeed have a large audience, the beneficiaries will be Perry and Bell, who performed like pros compared to Strayhorn and Friedman. It will be interesting to see whether the next round of polls confirms this. Polls typically survey between 500 and 800 voters statewide, so the results could be heavily affected by whether random phone calls happen to reach people who saw the debate.

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