At the beginning of the Meg Whitman-Steve Poizner debate, about 1950 viewers were watching online. 15 minutes into the proceedings, that number fell by 100. Not until the hour-long debate was past its midway mark did the viewership surpass the 2,000 mark (this, according to the counter in the bottom left-hand of the debate’s live feed).
Maybe it was because the video was choppy at first, stopping every five seconds or so in an annoying, Max Headroom style, with the audio sometimes growing faint, sometimes becoming garbled.
Maybe it was because the debate started at 5:3o p.m. on a sun-splashed afternoon, the second day of Daylight Savings Time, giving viewers another excuse to log off — that is, if they weren’t still at work or stuck in the rush-hour commute.
Or maybe it was the nature of the proceedings, which had all the fireworks of a Sunday night in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Economics, education and business resumes dominated the discussion. On these topics, Poizner and Whitman aren’t night and day opposites. More like night . . . and later that same night.
Precious little time was given to real differences, or real shortcomings.
For example, if he a chance to do it again, I’d like to know if Poizner, given that he’s no longer so adamant a supporter of Proposition 39, subject of an attack ad from Team Whitman, has other past regrets.
Speaking of Whitman, since she signed off on a letter hailing Barbara Boxer as a “courageous leader”, could she name three acts of said courage by the liberal senator?
Add the fact that both candidates spoke with handheld mikes before a small town-hall set-up — exactly what they’ve done in hundreds of events on the campaign trail this past year — and that’s what you had: not a debate, but coinciding campaign spiels.
Two candidates not debating each other so much as interviewing simultaneously for the same job. The event was organized by New Majority California, which deserves credit for at least getting the two candidates together on one stage. But Korn-Ferry might as well have been in charge.
Note to future debate planners: next time, give the candidates a chance to pose questions to each other (assuming there is another debate, and both sides would agree to this). Better yet, have the moderator step in and force the candidates out of their campaign talking points.
Granted, debates are not meant for eye-gouging and face rakes. That’s why WWE Monday Night Raw exists.
But the purpose should be to find where the two candidates differ, rather that 40+ minutes of Republican Alphonse and Gaston on the economy, schools and how start-up savvy and engineering skills will reinvigorate Sacramento.
In that regard, this was a wasted opportunity. Voters deserve a rematch.