Archive (2008)

New Kuhl Ad: Maggie Brooks

The Kuhl campaign has released a new ad featuring an endorsement from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. It's embedded below.

News: Fundraiser, Debate and Health Care Ad

Exile at The Albany Project has a detailed post on Randy Kuhl's effort to stop the broadcast of a 527 ad on health care. Kuhl has sent a letter to station managers asking them not to run the ad.

Exile also has the scoop on Randy Kuhl's $2,500 fundraiser at Oak Hill.

The Star-Gazette/WENY debate details have been announced. The debate will be broadcast live and on the S-G website.

News: Massa Endorsement, Golden Pen

Reader Elmer sends today's story [pdf] about some recent union endorsements of Eric Massa.

Today's Democrat and Chronicle gives its Golden Pen to a letter decrying negative ads. Though purportedly against negative ads in general, the only examples used in the letter were from Democrats. Eric Massa was one example.

Click on the "Ads" category to the right and you can make your own judgment on negative ads in this race. Kuhl and Massa began with one positive ad each, and after that, everything's been "negative". Moreover, the ads haven't been that negative -- they've stuck to issues rather than personalities and associations.

If the D&C is going to hold up letters as shining examples, it could at least pick ones that have a bit of balance.

Tonight's Debate

Thanks to Exile from The Albany Project for live blogging, and to all the readers who commented. It was fun, and I hope we can do it again.

Tonight's 13-WHAM debate was far better than last night's WXXI debate in NY-26. Moderators allowed the candidates to answer at length, there was some direct exchange between the two candidates, and the questions were pretty good. Sean Carroll and Don Alhart did a standout job.

Readers who missed the debate can watch a stream at 13-WHAM. I'll publish a link when it's posted. The debate video has been posted at the 13-WHAM video page.

13-WHAM Debate Live Blog

Still More on Debates

Sean Carroll, the moderator of tonight's 13-WHAM debate, has posted six more questions for the campaigns to answer this weekend.

Following up on my earlier post on the low quality of debates, here's a bipartisan group launched today who are asking for better debates: The Open Debate Coalition

Reminder: Debate Tonight

The first Massa/Kuhl debate is at 9 tonight on 13-WHAM.

We'll be live-blogging starting a little before 9 p.m. tonight.

Debate Format Matters

Howard Owens has a post at the Batavian about last night's debate in NY-26. I only sat through half of that debate, but I agree with his conclusion that voters didn't learn much from it.

In anticipation of tonight's debate in the 29th, let's drill in on one of Howard's points: "to be fair, the format sucked".

After watching the first Presidential debate, and comparing it to the other two, I've come to realize how much format matters. The first Presidential debate was much better than the second (or the Vice-Presidential debate) because it allowed the moderator to ask followups and, most importantly, it let the candidates go at each other during those followups. To accomodate that format, each issue took 5-10 minutes of debate time instead of the usual 4 or 5.

Traditional debates like last night's, which had a one-minute response and a 45-second followup, are much easier to game than the long-answer debate. If a politician can spit out 60 seconds of talking points, followed by 45 more seconds of evasive rebuttal, they can easily turn any "debate" into a series of short speeches. It's much harder to spit out canned bullshit when you have to talk about a topic for 5-10 minutes and answer your opponent repeatedly.

The long-form debate also keeps politicians on topic, since they can answer their opponent's charges directly. This is what really kills the traditional debate. Politicians almost always add a rebuttal of the last question to the next question, which just increases confusion.

National media amplifies the bullshit quotient at traditional debates by looking for a "winner" and fixating on "gaffes". Most media pundits watch debates like hockey fans waiting for a fight, or NASCAR fans waiting for a crash. The longer debate doesn't eliminate this tendency, but the short debate feeds it, because each politician is pressured for time and is more prone to try for cute comebacks rather than real analysis.

I know a lot of people who aren't very interested in politics, yet they take time from their schedules to watch debates. Campaigns put huge effort into them. Yet, the end product of so much effort and expense is almost always a low-information, tedious affair.

I believe local media sincerely wants to do better, but they're already operating at a handicap when then copy the terrible, time-limited, non-debate "debate" format that was pioneered back in the 70's.

Just as folks threw away their Earth Shoes and disco albums, we need to trash the Ford/Carter-style debate and use a lengthier, more meaningful format.

News: Rolfe Bails on Massa, Kuhl's Campaigning

Reader Elmer sends Bob Rolfe's Column [pdf] where Rolfe, a long-time Massa supporter, expresses his concerns about Massa's position on the bailout.

The Olean Times-Herald covers Randy Kuhl's visit to a high school class in Little Valley. WENY has a story about Kuhl's appearance at the opening of Republican headquarters in Elmira.

Evening News: Massa on the Radio, Polls and the Chamber

Reader Elmer sends a Star-Gazette item which announces that Eric Massa will be on 820-AM in Elmira at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Randy Kuhl will also appear sometime before the election.

Elmer also reports that he heard a Chamber of Commerce radio ad in support of Randy Kuhl and his positions on health care.. The Chamber supports a minimalist approach to health care reform, as explained here.

The Messenger-Post has a story about polling in the 29th.

In that story, Justin Stokes, Kuhl's campaign manager, argues that IVR (touch-tone) polls, such as the SurveyUSA poll, may have issues with their methodology. That may be true, though SurveyUSA had a good track record in the Presidential primaries. Today's Research 2000 poll was a live interview poll, and it was pretty close to the SurveyUSA poll.

That all said, polling House races is harder than Presidential race polling. In 2006, Mark Blumenthal posted an excellent analysis at, explaining the difficulties involved.

Ad Has Desired Effect

Yesterday's ad on health care issues from a 527 prompted a sharp response from the Kuhl campaign. WXXI has a story on the ad and Kuhl's outrage.

As I've mentioned before, half of the game with ads from outside groups is to generate free media coverage, since they rarely make a big media buy. Targets of these ads are in a tough position. If they put out a press release contesting the ad, local media coverage will probably attract more attention than the ad itself. If they don't push back, the ad airs uncontested.

Another Independent Poll Shows Massa Ahead

Eric Massa leads Randy Kuhl 48% to 42%, according to a Research 2000 poll taken in the 29th district Tuesday and Wednesday.

Though this poll was commissioned for the Daily Kos, Research 2000 is an independent organization and other Daily Kos/Research 2000 polls are considered high-quality products. Kos posts full crosstabs, which show that Obama is leading McCain 48-45 in the 29th. Bush beat Kerry by 14 points in the district in 2004.

The poll has a small sample size (400), with a 5% margin of error.

(via The Albany Project)