Scoring the presidential debate

October 23, 2012

(Washington Post Editors)

If you joined us live last night for the final presidential debate, you noticed that we asked readers to share their reaction to what was being said by the candidates in real time. Readers could choose whether they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with what was being said on screen every five seconds. That corresponded with a score on a scale of 10 to -10.

We crunched the admittedly non-scientific numbers. This chart is a quick glimpse at how washingtonpost.com audiences scored Obama, Romney, and moderator Bob Schieffer.

Here are some of the highest and lowest scoring statements for both candidates:

Obama's high scoring statements:

"What we're seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking, and that's why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition."
Average score: 4.38

"So, what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map."
Average score: 4.24

"What we've done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We've mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance and we are helping the opposition organize, and we’re particularly interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria."
Average score: 4.22

Obama's low scoring statements:

"What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East."
Average score: -0.33

"America remains the one indispensable nation. And the world needs a strong America, and it is stronger now than when I came into office."
Average score: -0.57

"Well, my first job as commander in chief, Bob, is to keep the American people safe. And that's what we've done over the last four years."
Average score: -0.80

Romney's high scoring statements:

"Well, let's step back and talk about what's happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster."
Average score: 4.01

"No. I believe, as the president indicated, and said at the time that I supported his -- his action there. I felt that -- I wish we'd have had a better vision of the future."
Average score: 3.97

"Well, first of all, it's not government that makes business successful. It's not government investments that makes businesses grow and hire people."
Average score: 3.22

Romney's low scoring statements:

"It's certainly not hiding. This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries, and it presents an enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America, long term, and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism."
Average score: -1.67

"But we can't kill our way out of this mess. We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism, which is certainly not hiding."
Average score: -2

"Our hearts and minds go out to them. Mali has been taken over, the northern part of Mali by al-Qaeda type individuals. We have in Egypt, a Muslim Brotherhood president. And so what we're seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region."
Average score: -2.02

Jon Cohen and Leslie Passante contributed to this report. 

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