Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Debate post-mortem: The Spanish press is emphasizing that nobody said anything new and that both sides were on the attack. La Vanguardia's reporter agrees with me: he thinks Rajoy won on points but didn't deliver the necessary knockout. Everybody pretty much agrees on the hot buttons that both tried to push repeatedly: Zap the March 11 bombing, the Iraq war, social spending, and the PP's aggressive anti-Zap campaigning, and Rajoy inflation, housing, immigration, the Catalan statute, and Zap's negotiations with ETA.

More than 13 million people watched the debate; it drew a 59% audience share.

The scientifically-done surveys all gave Zap a solid but not overwhelming victory: Antena 3 had Zap 45%-Rajoy 39%, Tele 5 had Zap 50%-Rajoy 34%, Cuatro had Zap 45%-Rajoy 33%, and La Sexta had Zap 46%-Rajoy 31%. El Pais's survey was the closest, Zap 46%-Rajoy 42%.

El Pais also gave what was for me a surprising gender breakdown: Men said Zap won, 64%-36%, while women gave Zap a much closer 52%-48% victory. That's the opposite of the American pattern, where men are considerably more conservative than women.

One thing to keep in mind is that everybody who said Rajoy won will vote for the PP, while some of the people who said Zap won will vote for the Communists or a regional nationalist party.

The self-selected, non-scientific polls done by the newspaper websites pretty much reflect the political makeup of each paper's readers.

El Mundo has Rajoy 61%-Zap 39%; ABC has Rajoy 52%-Zap 48%; and La Razon has Rajoy 61%-Zap 39%. Meanwhile, El Pais has Zap 57%-Rajoy 36%; La Vanguardia has Zap 62%-Rajoy 35%; and El Periodico has Zap 74%-Rajoy 26%. The figures from the two Catalan papers show how unpopular Rajoy and the PP are in Catalonia.

Prediction: This debate won't affect voter intention too much, since neither candidate scored a knockout blow. I don't think either of them convinced anyone who wasn't already backing him. I'm still guessing that the PP is going to do better than expected in the ballot boxes, but Rajoy is going to need a clear win in the next debate, along with some solid campaigning.

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