I’m not the first to say this, but as much as I hate polling culture, I think Insta-polls have done a surprising amount of good.
It used to be the pundits would spend the hour after the debate telling everybody who intelligent people thought won. Then the next day the pollsters would call everybody, and voila — a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now they sit there, knowing the polls are coming in that night, and that all the nonsense they are spouting is about to be disproved. And when the polls come in they say things like “Well, I still maintain McCain won on points, but clearly the campaign is solidifying because the polls show that independents believe that Obama won 53-22.”
Really, is that what they believe? What’s the definition of winning then?
It’s confusing times to be a pundit. They were originally supposed to be predicting what how voters would react — horse-race journalism, sure. But a wonderful sort of horse-race, where reporting could influence the results.
Now that they’ve started to lose that ability, via insta-polls and citizen journalism, it’s becoming clear to everyone how in the bubble they are. You can’t watch a bunch of pundits talking about how John McCain controlled the debate and made ground before the polls come in that night, and then see the polls show the biggest Obama spread yet without wondering what these people could possibly bring to the table in terms of insight.