On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski asserted that "people overwhelmingly thought [Gov. Sarah Palin] won her debate," while Willie Geist suggested that Palin won by a smaller margin than Brzezinski claimed. However, most polls conducted on the days following the vice presidential debate found that Sen. Joe Biden won. In fact, a Media Matters review of polling sites did not find any national polls that found Palin won the debate.
During the October 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski said of Gov. Sarah Palin, "I think she's fabulous. I can't help it." She later asserted: "I think people overwhelmingly thought she won her debate." Co-host Willie Geist then commented, "Not overwhelmingly," while host Joe Scarborough stated, "Not the flash polls." Mark Halperin, Time magazine's editor-at-large, added, "There were some pundits." However, contrary to Brzezinski's assertion that "people overwhelmingly thought she won," and Geist's suggestion that Palin won by a smaller margin than Brzezinski claimed, most polls conducted on the days following the October 2 vice presidential debate found that Sen. Joe Biden won. In fact, a Media Matters for America review of polling sites did not find any national polls that found Palin won the debate.*
Brzezinski made her remark that "people overwhelmingly thought she won her debate" shortly after Geist reported that an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that respondents thought the Obama-Biden ticket was doing a better job in debates than the McCain-Palin ticket, 50 to 29 percent. The poll was conducted October 4-5, from among 658 registered voters. Other polls, both those conducted immediately after the debate and in the days following it, found that, by fairly wide margins, respondents thought Biden won or performed better than Palin. They include:
- A Zogby Interactive poll of likely voters nationwide conducted on October 2 (after the debate concluded) through October 3 found that voters picked Biden over Palin, 50 to 41 percent.
- A Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters nationally conducted on October 3 found that 45 percent of respondents thought Biden won, 37 percent chose Palin, and 18 percent were "not sure."
- An October 6 Diageo/Hotline Daily Tracker Poll, "based on combined data from October 3 to October 5," found that, among likely voters from a "random, nationally representative sample," Biden won the debate, 47 to 28 percent, while 20 percent called it "a tie."
- An October 3-5 CBS News poll of a random sample of adults nationwide found that registered voters who watched the debate chose Biden over Palin, 50-31, while 17 percent said it was a tie. Among all registered voters polled, including those who did not watch the debate, 41 percent also thought Biden won compared with 28 percent who picked Palin, and 14 percent who called it a tie.
Additionally, at least two snap polls (or flash polls) also found that Biden won or performed better than Palin:
- An October 2 CBS News and Knowledge Networks poll conducted "[i]mmediately after the vice presidential debate" found that, among a nationally representative sample of uncommitted voters, defined as "voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who have a preference but say they could still change their minds," 46 percent said Biden won, while 21 percent chose Palin; 33 percent called it a tie.
- An October 2 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll among adults nationwide who watched the debate, found that 51 percent said Biden "did the best job," while 36 percent favored Palin.
From the October 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
BRZEZINSKI: She's a mother of five who's pulling this off quite well. I think she's fabulous. I can't help it.
GEIST: A lot of people thought Sarah Palin did well last week. Well, look at these numbers here from NBC News: Who does a better job in debates? The respondents here, at least, thought it was Obama-Biden by a large margin 50 to 29.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, of course, it didn't help that John McCain was as stiff and awkward --
BRZEZINSKI: So, Joe --
SCARBOROUGH: -- as he was in these debates.
BRZEZINSKI: -- what's the disconnect here --
SCARBOROUGH: What do you mean?
BRZEZINSKI: -- seriously?
SCARBOROUGH: What do you mean?
BRZEZINSKI: I mean, is this poll Obama and Biden -- they're both doing debates together -- or the Biden-Palin debate? I mean, because I just -- if everyone thinks that Palin didn't do so well --
GEIST: That's with McCain.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that's with both of them.
BRZEZINSKI: That's with McCain. OK, all right.
GEIST: Now, let me show you --
SCARBOROUGH: McCain's dragging her down.
GEIST: It's like tag-team wrestling.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, exactly.
GEIST: You gotta count them both. There's always a weakness.
BRZEZINSKI: 'Cause I -- I think people overwhelmingly thought she won her debate. No?
GEIST: Not overwhelmingly.
SCARBOROUGH: Not the flash polls.
HALPERIN: There were some pundits.
BRZEZINSKI: Not the flash polls?