The final presidential debate

image courtesy of cnn.comThe third and final presidential took place tonight, and while I felt undecided on the results, an early CNN poll gave Kerry a substantial margin with a 59% to 39% victory over Bush. But first, a few words from our candidates (thanks to Microsoft Word):

Kerry in 100 words: 82,000 Arizonians lost their health insurance under President Bush’s watch. This president has turned his back on the wellness of America. President Bush has taken — he’s the only president in history to do this. 6 million jobs lost. This president has taken a $5. Once again, the president is misleading America. The president just said that government-run health care results in poor quality. The jobs the president is creating pay $9,000 less than the jobs that we’re losing. 6 million jobs. The president has denied 9. Let me pay a compliment to the president, if I may.

Bush in 100 words: My opponent talks about fiscal sanity. You voted to increase taxes 98 times. Most health-care costs are covered by third parties. If you have a child, you got tax relief. If you’re married, you got tax relief. If you pay any tax at all, you got tax relief. We passed tax relief. We’ll increase federal spending. We’ve increased funds. The people I talked to their spirits were high. My opponent, the senator, talks about foreign policy. I think people understand what she’s saying.

Kerry’s language in this debate focused on three phrases: minimum wage (8 mentions), health insurance (6 mentions), and social security (6 mentions), a recognizable platform for a democratic candidate.

Bush’s language on the other hand was less issue focused with the most popular phrases of my opponent (7), four years (6), and best way (5), a seemingly more defensive tone.

My personal reaction to the debate was that Kerry seemed overly repetitive and slightly less focused on the questions at hand, bringing terrorism and foreign policy into the debate too often when the focus was supposed to be on domestic issues. The CNN poll found however that viewers raised their opinion of Kerry more during the debate than Bush:

When asked who would handle domestic issues better, Kerry scored higher in health care (55-41). There was no clear leader on the economy (Kerry 51, Bush 46), education (Kerry 48, Bush 47) or taxes (Bush 50, Kerry 47). Kerry’s biggest win came on the question of who expressed himself better, where 61 percent of respondents chose him over Bush (29 percent).

I find it fascinating how bad my personal reaction is to the results of these political exchanges. After doing various forms of analysis for each of the debates, I feel like none of these methods have a predictive effect on the reaction of the voters. Or at least my reaction to the actual events and subsequent analysis seems to be contrary to the rest of the population. With that said, I guess it’s going to be a gripping election.

For more information on this analysis, please see analyses of the first presidential debate, vice presidential debate, and second presidential debate.

NewsBlaster

In today’s SearchDay, Chris Sherman introduced a new project from the Columbia Natural Language Processing group called Newsblaster, an automatic content aggregator, which, unlike Blogdex, actually culls similar content into one descriptive passage. Chris noted:

“If such a system were combined with a URL monitoring service, and seeded with a taxonomy of subjects personally interesting to you, it could effectively create your own web “advisory” service, automatically building directories of promising sites annotated with high-level summaries that would spare you the time of manual searching.”

Sounds to me like the coming of personalized news, the underlying goals of which have always left me a little uneasy. Personalized news tends to converge, as one might expect, on your personal interests. If we take this model to the extreme, then would I ever learn anything entirely new? Something revolutionary? What I want is someone else’s personalized news, someone like myself, but different enough that they will lead me in a new direction. That, my friends, is a weblog. And thankfully, there are lots of those.

To be fair, I’m sure Chris is referring to some hybrid of weblog and news content, which is taking all of this into account. I just had to get the ‘personalized news’ rant off my chest. I feel better now, in case anyone is wondering.