US presidential primaries are a great spectator sport for those of us who do not need to actually cast our vote. The preceding week was no exception – and of course the sight of a presidential candidate fumbling the ball completely on camera was a rare sight. But how immediate was the damage, really?
(For those of you who missed it, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, one of the front runners, was about to name the three government agencies he would close on assuming office. This is apparently a standard talking point in most of his campaign speeches. On this occasion his memory blanked midway through the point list and he stopped in mid-sentence trying to recall the third agency to be closed – a quite embarrassing moment for a public speaker, but frequent enough for most of us to have experienced something similar.)
In Image 1 you will find a graph of an aggregate of various negative sentiments with respect to the four leading GOP presidential hopefuls for the past week. Nothing too surprising there. Herman Cain is battling allegations of sexual misconduct and impropriety, which generates a fair amount of negative text. Rick Perry is discussed in non-flattering terms after his debate freeze gaffe. Michele Bachmann is a distant fourth to the other three. And while Rick Perry appears to have heavy going ahead of him, the challenge for Herman Cain remains much higher.
Looking closer at Rick Perry, however, we find something quite interesting. In Image 2 you will find a graph of worry and concern with respect to Rick Perry. (Other non-flattering sentiments and attitudes follow much the same pattern.) The debate situation went down on Wednesday evening (20:00 / 8 pm EST). The worry graph only starts rising on Thursday, after lunch. This is, allowing for the time difference (our graph is timed to Stockholm time), early morning on the Eastern seaboard of the US. The negative sentiment is not an immediate reaction to his performance, but a reaction on what media reports and possibly to his attempts at regaining footing. One wonders what the effect of a momentary blankout might have been without the amplification given by chattering commentators!
We will be returning with more reports on the presidential campaign during the next few months!