January 31st, 2008
10:25 PM ET
10 years ago

People meter: undecided Democratic voters weigh in

Voters reacted to Thursday night's debate in real time.

Voters reacted to Thursday night's debate in real time.

(CNN)—Thursday night’s CNN/LATimes/Politico Democratic debate was a historic event not only because the field has narrowed - leaving a choice of an African America or a female Democratic nominee - but because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared to have called a truce. The two seemed to combine their efforts and threw their punches at the Republican Party.

Immigration, healthcare and the war in Iraq took center stage at the Kodak Theatre. All the while, a group of undecided male and female Democratic voters reacted in real time to the candidates’ responses.

The red line graph represents voter approval or disapproval of their responses as the debate progressed.

Overall, 60 percent of the undecided voters weighing in thought Clinton showed more strength Thursday night than Obama. However, they did feel Obama did best on the topic of Iraq.

People meter: Watch Obama and Clinton battle their healthcare packages

People meter: Watch Obama discuss his plan to curb illegal immigration

People meter: Watch Clinton discuss her Iraq war strategy

People meter: Watch Obama pitch his plan to handle foreign threats

Related: CNN's Erica Hill reports undecided voters had the strongest response over criticism of the Republicans

–CNN's Emily Sherman

soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. Kevin, Illinois

    She won the debate!!! Period......As usual she looked most presidential...Go Hillary

    January 31, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  2. Go Hillary

    Go HILLARY!!!!! I Know you are genuine, will be democratic nominee. You WILL MAKE BEST PRESIDENT TO FIX ISSUES THAT WE HAVE

    January 31, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  3. Molly

    Yes! I thought Hillary won tonight too. Obama keeps claiming that he showed great judgment by opposing the war in Iraq. He claims this because he made one speech against the war in 2002. BIG DEAL! Then he did nothing about the war and even took the speech off of his website. When he came to the Senate he voted just like Hillary on funding for the war. If this is his example of great judgment then my vote goes to Hillary.

    January 31, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  4. Elizabeth in Dallas

    Let's remember that those 60 percent were people who actually took the time to vote through CNN. I think a lot of people were watching the return on "Lost" tonight anyway.

    Obama 08 from his INDEPENDENT.

    January 31, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  5. Mike, Conway, AR

    It was clear from watching this whole debate with the People Meter that it was skewed towards Clinton. She consistently scored higher on the People Meter from the begining. This reflects that the group selected to participate was skewed towards Clinton supporters.

    Obviously it is difficult to screen this group, but I would hope that those responsible would acknowledge this fact.

    January 31, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  6. Harold Longanecker

    after watching the debate I would feel comfortable with either Obama or Clinton.
    I prefer Clinton because after the mess all the male presidents have gotten our country into; it might be nice to give a qualified candidate like Mrs. Clinton have a go at it.

    January 31, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  7. Will

    We need to account for the fact that 50% of the 30 people who contributed to the live vote were Hispanic. That's hardly representative of the electorate..

    January 31, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. Leena

    My understanding is that the composition of your "so called undecided voters sample group" was unrepresentative, half the group were hispanic. I don't know where CNN learnt about putting together a sample group because the last time I checked America wasen't half Hispanic so your test group is grossly flawed.
    Please take down the dumb results!

    January 31, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  9. Chris from Indy

    I thought the debate was a much better showing than the Republicans on Wednesday. I think both realize that neither wins when being mean spirited to each other. Personally, I think Clinton has the edge but Obama does show he is a strong leader as well. I love the idea of a Clinton/Obama ticket. In fact, I would be a bit surprised if discussions haven't already taken place with regard to whomever wins the nomination, having the other as their running mate. It would be an unstoppable ticket and very historic. Dems in 08!

    January 31, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. T. Wals

    It has become clear to me that Hillary is the better candidate. I will vote for her.

    January 31, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  11. Aaron

    She's enabled some of those mistakes. Judgement counts for me.

    Obama 08

    January 31, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  12. Barney Chapman

    Keep it simple. There both good. They both say about the same thing. It comes down to who has the best leadership and persuasive qualities, as President, to get the Congress to do the will of the people.

    January 31, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  13. ann

    The undecided voters are correct. I was originally very interested in Obama but the more I listened to him, the less impressed I became. Obama does well with practiced speeches. He is all about slogans and rhetoric. He does not "think on his feet". He can only respond well to topics he has prepared to answer. Hillary Clinton is much more knowledgeable and can answer questions with poise and confidence. She knows what she is doing. Obama is still learning and it shows in debates. When he can rehearse for a speech, he sounds good. However, he cannot practice for what he would face as our president. Hillary is ready. Obama is not.

    January 31, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. adrienne

    I thought Obama won... or at the very least did as well.

    Obama does give people hope. He gave many of us a voice when we needed a leader to stand up and speak the truth. People can belittle hope all they want.
    I have felt helpless for 7 years. Do you rememer after 911? For years it was like slamming my head on the wall. It was a nightmare. GW and Cheney bulldozed over every democrat and demonized us if we did not support the war.
    Obama was one of the only people who gave me a voice in that awful time.
    I have not forgotten.
    Hillary went along with them all... for years. She did not make the stand. She was not my leader in a time I really needed a voice. The dems were smashed down and few people were brave enough to stand up to the republicans.
    Obama did.

    Some people like to reduce Obama to happy happy joy joy sound bites.
    I don't know... I figure at some level.. some people feel threatened by him.
    They are afraid... to allow themselves to hope.

    The devil they know...

    It's the security vote.


    It rules us small animals. So prone we are to playing it safe...

    It's so watership down.

    Change is scary... because of the unknown.
    Sometimes though... you have to be brave.

    January 31, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  15. Unbiased? NOT!

    When the baseline was +/-70 points for Clinton and the baseline was +/-45 points for Obama, THAT IS NOT undecided voters. It was that way from the beginning of the debate. Why would CNN even suggest that these were undecided voters? Clearly the screening for these participants needs to be more strenuous.

    What am I missing? Hillary did well tonight, but to try and claim that there was not a bias is simple ignorance.

    January 31, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. Liz TN

    Great job Hillary. Obama might make a good choice for VP.

    January 31, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  17. Adarrah for Obama

    Obama 08'

    January 31, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Phil

    Clinton looked fine tonight – as always, she's intelligent, she knows her policy issues, she's capable.

    But 28 years of two families running the country? (36 years if you count Bush's Vice Presidency.) That sounds like the sort of thing we had a revolution 225 years ago to stop from happening.

    January 31, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  19. Terry

    I've noticed that Obama was playing "me too" a lot after Hillary provided some good answers. He attempted a couple of zingers aimed at Hillary and she did not crumble. Obama seemed to be talking out of both sides of his mouth ...on the one hand he stated this election is about he future (not looking backwards)...then said something that contradicts later by saying he was against the war ...therefore he is the best candidate to end the war and fight it out with republicans. You can't have it both ways. Either the election is about the future and only the future or its not. which is it? Obama made a claim that its important to be "right on day 1". Sounds great and it resonated with the audience. How many presidents have we had that were right on day 1? Essentially, you have to have some experience with success and failure to be right on day 1. People learn more from their failures than they do from their successes. I'd just like to know how he can be right on day 1 when his experience doesn't seem to include any lessons learned. Obama is a great speaker but I'm not feeling the confidence. It feels like he is not in total alignment with what he is saying.

    January 31, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  20. Barbara Remmem

    I like both candidates but believe HILLARY is the best one for the job. I do recommend that she offer Obama the VP post OR a job on the cabinet or Presidential staff as I am sure Hillary also appreciates people who are not just yes people and we already know he isn't afraid to tel her when he thinks she is wrong. GO HILLARY.

    January 31, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  21. Bryce K.

    Why do I support Hillary instead of Obama?

    Do not get me wrong I love Obama he is highly politically astute and very charismatic in the extreme. I mean the way he has captured the imagination of so many like a rock star, everybody loves Obama. But America needs experienced leadership now after the Bush fiasco, leadership with more than charisma, and or magnificent oral skills.

    Yet our country is dealing with very serious issues, issues that deserve our full attentions and indeed urgent attention. Hillary currently has the most aggressive and indebt proposals and plans to deal with these major issues. Obama’s record on these issues is somewhat vague at best, while Hillary's plans have details Obama’s offer the talking point memo for the Democratic Party. To be honest Edwards had more detailed position on all these issues in comparison to Obama.

    What is Obama's position on foreign policy, specifics please, not just broad statements and indescribable optimism. How do we deal with countries and regions such as China, Russia, Cuba, Africa, and specifically Kenyan? Where ethnic cleansing is currently taking place as we decide who will lead the Free world. His father is from there, what is his position? His grandmother lives there and other relatives, yet not comment. He visit Kenya last year to win media attention, he is suppose to be the first African-American President, what does the African part means to him. I for one have no clue at this time.

    If one needs to have urgent surgery I do not think we look for the most charismatic surgeon Obama or the most experienced Hillary. I am sure there are those who might choose the former, and I respect that decision however suggest that Hillary is our best current hope to change the direction of our great country in a more positive and evenly balanced positive direction.

    Yes, I would love with all my heart as a proud African-American and radical democrat to see an African-American as President of the greatest country on the planet earth. However, I must put aside my desire to see such a President. Instead as a patriot, I must put the urgent need of this great country called America! I am sorry my beloved Brother, however I cannot in good faith and or good judgment support your candidacy at this critical point in our country's history, and leadership that is more robust is required and indeed deserved by this great country at this time.

    Making this choice while difficult does has it's own advantages, I can vote for and support the first Woman President, one fully knowledgeable and experienced in the politic not only of America but also the world at large. A hard working women like so many women I see every day in my neighborhood and very capable of making the tough decisions, when it comes to foreign policy, defense, energy policy, the economy, universal health care, education and economic justice for the poor and disadvantaged.

    All these issues will need ongoing and constant vigilance and someone capable, willing, and experienced in fighting the oppressive and negative forces of current American Conservative thought, which WILL BE NECESSARY, in dealing with the very urgent issues facing America. Hillary Clinton is the one best positioned to lead this fight for all Americans.

    January 31, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  22. Linna

    Hillary Clinton was brilliant, wonderful. Obama was good also.

    January 31, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |

    lol such an unrepresentative vote

    January 31, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  24. nazirmo

    It is easy for Obama to say that he did not vote for the war. When Bush the commander in chief stated his case to go to war he was supported then by
    Powell and others in his administration and one needs to give the benefit of the doubt to the commander and chief and support him as Hillary did.
    The reality is that as a major super power United States of America is under
    threat from many Islamic nations especially Iran and others. No matter who becomes the President , wars are not gonna stop. US will still be involved for better or for worse. So to think that if Obama becomes the next President and magically wars will cease is in Bill Clinton's words a fairy tale.
    I thought that Hillary spoke well on issues and frankly did quite well but judging by the poll no matter how well Hillary does people just will put her down.
    I think that people need to look at who can best resolve issues on economy and health care and then foreign policy etc. and Hillary I feel certainly is the best
    candidate in my opinion to deliver as did Bill Clinton under his Presidency.
    The best line in the debate came from Hillary when she said that it took one Clinton to clean up the mess created by the first Bush and it needs another Clinton to clean up the mess that will be left behind by the second Bush.

    January 31, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  25. Aillyn


    This is all wrong. %60 of the sample group was hispanic. That's not at all diverse. The U.S isn't half Hispanic and the Electorate is not half hispanic. CNN needs to learn how to do a sample group that's doesn't primarily of %60 hispanics.

    January 31, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
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