Audience meters pick Rep. debate winner

Audience meters pick Rep. debate winner

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by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW

kgw.com

Posted on April 22, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 22 at 2:05 PM

PORTLAND -- For the first time in KGW TV history, audience meters tracked the way undecided voters felt about answers given during a gubenetorial debate.

It happened Wednesday night as three republican candidates squared off at the KGW studios.

The company, Momentum Market Intelligence trained 33 undecided republican voters on how to use their "perception meters". The device is the size of a deck of cards with a dial on the top. Turn it to the left to zero when you totally disapprove of a statement or to the right to 100 if you totally agree with the statement.

MULTIMEDIA: View Perception meter results

The demographic information of each of the 33 is fed into the computer. During the debate each of their responses is fed into a computer, averaged out and displayed on a video screen over the actual debate.

The company's CEO is Michael Malone. According to the company website, Malone has 25 years of designing and managing market research studies and was one of the leading innovators in developing the technology back in 1985.

During Wednesday night's debate, Momentum Market Intelligence employees Joel Morgan and Marquis McNeil watched their lap tops as the live stream of data flowed over the candidate's comments. McNeil could tell instantly when a candidate hit a hot button with the audience as John Lim did when answering a question about health care.

"This is the time Oregonians need to stand up---push back!" said Lim. "Health care---there it is right there," McNeil whispered as he pointed at the screen and the horizontal tracking lines shot up. "Health care, health care," he smiled shaking his head. "When in doubt---its like the perfect answer," McNeil said.

But the same data stream reveals weekness in the audience perception. As candidate Chris Dudley talks about whether the state should change the video lottery system, the tracking lines barely move. "He's too basic," McNeil whispers. "He's like 50-50."

At the end of the debate, the 33 undecided voters are brought back together to pick, with their meters, who won. 66% picked Allen Alley. 22% picked Chris Dudley. 13% picked John Lim. The audience sample using the perception meters is not a scientific sample.

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