January 21st, 2008
10:15 PM ET
14 years ago

People Meter: Viewers weigh in on debate

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/21/art.meter.cnn.jpg caption="Take a look at how viewers reacted to Monday night's debate."]
(CNN) - Viewers watching the South Carolina debate Monday night had the unique opportunity to weigh in on the Democratic candidates as they discussed the issues. The red line graph over the debate footage indicates the voter response.

People meter: Watch Edwards fight for his chance in the debate.

People meter: Watch the candidates spar over health care.

People meter: Watch Clinton and Obama argue on their economic standpoints.

Related: Watch CNN's Erica Hill report on the real time viewer reaction

–CNN’s Emily Sherman

soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Response to another attack by Clinton Supporters

    Victoria, "I am a Hillary supporter but I do agree John Edwards did a really good job tonight. He called Obama out on his NO vote to cap credit cards because Obama did not like the rate and John said well if you voted NO than there is no cap..Hello meaning the rate could be higher."

    Obama's explanation of his vote was accurate and John Edwards was trying to twist it. He made a valid point in saying that there wasn't any discussion of the issue and that no discussion had been had about it in committee. The difference between Obama, Edwards and Clinton often comes down to how they legislate and how they lead. Obama wants to deal with real issues, focus on positive legislation and work in a bi-partisan manner to get things done. 30% is to high and to have it passed in the manner that Clinton and Edwards supported sets a precedent that legislation shouldn't be discussed, reviewed and refined.

    You are wrong when you say that "Hillary showed that Obama voted PRESENT on many important issuesand John drove home the point that you vote present because you don't want to make hard choices that may come back to haunt you. But as President there is no voting Present…."

    But there is a "present" vote in Illinois and Obama was correct when he said there is a major difference between the Illinois system and how Congress does things. Voting presence in Illinois means that you support the bill but have issues with a portion of the bill and wish for it to be worked out in committee. That Edwards and Clinton do not understand this indicates their general lack of experience in how state legislatures work. It is a misrepresentation to say that you vote "present" because you don't want to make hard choices. In Illinois you vote "present" because you do want to make hard choices and don't want the bill defeated and instead want to see it pass in modified form. John and Hillary's basic argument was "you should either vote in favor of passing a bill that needs to be modified and improved or vote against a good bill that should be passed with a few minor modifications." Obama's argument was just the opposite. Of course, you feel the other way and believe "vote yes even though it could be better" or "vote no on a good bill." That is simply outrageous and doesn't make sense. It shows that both Clinton and Edwards lack the experience to lead and legislate.

    Furthermore, "As for the heated exchange Obama is the one who attack Hillary first by saying she was no the board at Walmart. She defended herself. Obama sugar coated his friendship with Reko.. He did not just do five hours of work for him. He also made 650,000 on a real estate deal to buy his house which was shady…. Clinton/Edwards"

    Clinton has been attacking Obama from the start as has her husband Bill Clinton and her supporters including you. I could easily respond in as nasty a manner as you have but I don't want to scoop to your level but I will say that I am fed up with it. Also, Obama was responding to an attack on his record when he pointed out that he was working in neighborhoods helping people while Clinton was serving on the board of Wal-Mart. This is a valid point. All I can say is that "if this is how Democratic supporters of Clinton behave then she has lost this Democrats vote even if she wins the nomination because I would whether not vote if it means choosing the lessor of two evils." Now, my advice to you, Victoria, is stop being a mean-spirited person and stop insutling good people and supporting a candidate who is rude, arrogant and as mean-spirited as you. I am offened by all of your comments and by Clinton and I am sick and tired of this nonsense from her and her campaign including the average Americans who support her. It is people like you who elect people like her.

    January 22, 2008 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  2. A.C

    I would be happy with any of these candidates tonight as commander and chief.

    Toinight just goes to show you how important it is to show up at the polls and vote a democrat back into office and bring this country back from the hole the Republicans put us in. Let's make this a true democracy once again!!!

    January 22, 2008 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  3. Daniel

    Hillary Clinton keeps talking about being the best candidate to lead the United States on the very first day of becoming elected. What about the other (4 x 365) – 1 days? dont they also have to be considered. Would we vote Hilary because of a one-day-stand?

    January 22, 2008 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  4. Maeve

    Edwards won the debate, hands down...and I'm no big Edwards supporter. It makes me wonder where the candidate I saw in last night's debate has been all this long while.

    It was clear from Obama's first repsonse to the first question (regarding the economy) that he was going after Clinton last night. He couldn't resist mentioning her in what should have been HIS answer, needling her, accusing her.

    Other things I learned from the debate:

    Obama is not the only one who did charitable work right out of college. Hillary worked for the Children's Defense Fund, though she hasn't exploited her service there nearly as much as Obama has. He trots out his past "community organizing" like it's the equivalent of working for the Peace Corps or something,

    Obama took a pass on voting for a bill HE WROTE while in the Illinois legislature, because he says it was flawed; he was hoping it would fail or it would be rewritten. SURPRISE – it passed without him and is still on the books in Illinois. (This despite his accusing Clinton of doing the same thing in the past in the Senate, where she voted "yes" on a bill he thinks should have gotten a "no"...a measure that he AGAIN didn't bother to vote at all on.) I'll say it: what a complete fantasy his supposed superiority is on this point!

    Edwards has quite a sense of humor.

    Clinton can give as good as she gets.

    Both Clinton and Obama have that way of holding their palms up (stop-sign-like) to those who wish to contradict them...very pedantic, even arrogant. It's like they're saying, "Hold on. Take a step back while my superior intellect comes into play here." Yuck. A pox on both their houses.

    January 22, 2008 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  5. Mary

    Edwards was the clear winner of this debate. It is extremely annoying that the press and tv media deliberately ignore and exclude Edwards in most of their political coverage. He is the only one who realizes that the insurance companies must go so that health care for all will be affordable for the country. He is also the only one who has workable solutions to the other problems we face. He will also get us out of this stupid war faster than the others. There are still too many people in this country who (no matter how important it is that they vote in the actual election) will not vote for a woman (or at least this woman) or a minority candidate (especially one vunerable to Republicans calling him Osama or accusing him of being a Muslim) so Edwards seems to be the only candidate, at this point, who can beat the Republicans. I will work for and vote for the Democractic nominee regardless of who it is. Unfortunately, all Democrats won't. We must win this time around for the sake of our country, its people and the rest of the world. .

    January 22, 2008 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  6. Lynn

    John Edwards was great.

    Hillary did EXACTLY what she planned... sink the debate (as well as the whole political stage) into a mudslinging muck designed to twist, spin, turn and confuse. I distrust her immensely. Immensely. And, I am extremely disappointed that she can ONLY make "points" by pulling typical Clinton stunts, rather than on her own merit.

    I was impressed with Obama tonight.

    January 22, 2008 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  7. Many Democrats won't ever vote for Hillary Clinton

    Jen, I have serious reservations about Hillary Clinton being a good President but I agree with you that either Obama or Edwards would make a good President. The problem I have with Clinton is her lack of experience and her attempts to connect her record to that of her husband's in an effort to appear as though she would be more prepared to be President on day-one. The one comment I found most amusing is how she claims that Republicans have been coming after her for 16 years. It seems to me that this is a bit narcissistic since her elective experience is recent and I don't think Republicans spend much time concerning themselves with people who have no vote on legislation. I'm sure they went after her husband on more then one occasion because he posed a real threat to their agenda but I don't think it correct for say, Michelle Obama, to say that Hillary Clinton has been coming after her since her husband started to run for office.

    There's every indication that Hillary Clinton suffers from a form of narcissism. She seems to think everything revolves around her and seems to not care about how her actions and words affect others or make them feel. She has made very horrible comments about people who are sincere in their beliefs and makes hasty generalizations about them. The one thing I like about Obama is his abilty to work in a bipartisan manner and to recognize that Republicans are good people too and what I dislike most about Clinton is her demonizing men and women who have families, children and loved ones who care deeply about them simply because they don't share her political views.

    If elected, the only way Hillary Clinton will be able to get anything accomplished is if Democrats control the majority of the House and Senate and the Republicans don't have the ability to filibuster otherwise they will eat her up and spit her out as a way to get back at her for every mean-spirited thing she has said about them. On the other hand Obama has already formed relationships with Republicans in the Senate and has demonstrated an ability to work in a bipartisan manner and has never denounced all Republicans.

    It is true that Clinton is trying to appeal to partisan Democrats in an effort to win the primary but in so doing she is burning the bridges necessary for a good President (and absolutely essential for a great one) and building up for 4 more years of partisanship. If that is what her supporters want then they are free to vote for her but I know that I don't want 4 more years of partisanship and will be voting for Obama because he can work in a bi-partisan manner. John Edwards is able to do more in this area then Clinton was well. He may not be able to work in as bipartisan of a manner as Obama but he at least hasn't burned all bridges between himself and Republicans, Independts and many Democrats. On the other hand not only has Clinton offended a lot of Republicans and lost the votes of lot of Independents she has also lost the support of many Democrats who would whether not vote then to vote for her.

    January 22, 2008 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  8. Cmae

    I thought Hillary was great!! I thought her responses were honest and genuine. She seemed relaxed and for the first time in all of the debates honestly enjoying herself and happy. Obama was serious and intense. barely answered some very important policy questions, but was pushed very hard this evening from both Clinton and Edwards. The differences in the three was VERy apparent tonight. In my opinion, Edwards was the star of the debate!!! I hope he is our next President. He was AWESOME!

    January 22, 2008 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  9. Tal

    I have to say its a pity there can be only one of thes candidates in office. Any of them is so much more in touch with reality than the Republicans whose attempts to re-position after the greatest disaster of presidency are laughable.

    America's problesm are really too tough for any one party or person to deal with which is why I'm an Obama supporter. What we need is a transformational presidency who isn't content to squeek by with 50.1% of the vote, but actually wants to pickup independents and moderates, and yes even disaffected Republicans, and there are many who are waking up from the last seven years with the biggest Bush hangover imaginable.
    The key is the next Dem candidate needs a mandate, something I don't think Clinton can get on her own. It's no good if another Clinton gets into power for 1 term and causes even more divisions and retrenches the weakened but still powerful and consolidated Murdoch Media. If she over-reaches as she will inevitably do she will alienate many of the voters, and ruin the historic opportunity Dems have now. She will defnitely follow Pelosi's lead in inspiring much and accomplishing little as time goes on. And if she loses to a Repulican we will be in much the same position we are in now. Only Obama can truly change the system and make the Republican attacks dogs spin their wheels and expose themselves for the fear mongering fools they are. Plus the added bonus, in any Debate with McCain, think Nixon-JFK- Game over we win. Hillary's experience and high negatives will turn a gimme into a nail biter, only she can snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
    Again electibility is key, I appreciate Edwards comments on this but he has been so busy running for president ever since 04' instead of getting back into power, how about Elizabeth Dole's seat? Where he could have worked on the issues he cares about instead of living in Iowa and trying his hand again.
    As for the Clinton why not majority leader, its more effective than being a bunkered presidency. Hell put BIll in as Obama's Secretary of State and we have it made, Hillary to bust legislation through in the Senate, Bill to fly around the world doing damage control and at least taking his philandering ways out of washington and into exotic locations!

    January 22, 2008 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  10. cheryl

    Clinton first, Edwards 2nd and Obama last.

    I don't trust Obama plain and simple. He is not the answer for America right now. And no experience.. do we really want that?

    Edwards impressed me very much last night as being most level headed and clear thinking.

    Clinton has the guts and the head with Foreign Policy actions.. and experienice too.

    January 22, 2008 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  11. Richard

    Ugh ugh ugh. I thought that Bush's TV addresses with that moronic smug look on his face was bad; this was worse. Can we just erase the whole field and start over? President Dobbs is beginning to sound good to me.

    January 22, 2008 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  12. Christine

    I agree. Edwards did much better than I expected. I'm still leaning towards Obama. Because the bottom line is the country needs real leadership and it isn't going to happen without the results of the Democrats, Independents and Republicans joining behind a single candidate.

    As much as I know Senator Clinton wants to be President – she's got the highest negative rating even within her own party. After 8 years of George Bush, the last thing we need is someone divisive to tear what is left of us apart. Perhaps she is well-meaning – but that doesn't mean she's entitled to the job. And her "experience" put our men and women in Iraq but has done nothing to get them out. Does she honestly think the families of those individuals should have to wait another year?

    And does she honestly think that having her counterparts vote "yes" to the last funding bill mean they are pro-war? I assumed it meant they didn't want to leave our soldiers – our warriors – over there without adequate funds and equipment to do their job.

    If she's going to show leadership – then do it now.

    But right now-the country needs to be inspired to put its collective talent together for the common good. We don't need a divisive dictator – we need a charismatic leader who can inspire. That may have been "Bill." But it's not his wife. When Hilary was winning, it was kumbaya all over the map. Now that she's got competition – the real personality comes out.

    No thanks. I'm a woman. I want a woman in the White House. But for now – it has to be the right one, or no one, and she doesn't strike me as someone who will share power. She and her husband didn't even support their Vice President's run for office.

    A ticket with Obama and Edwards would make me giddy. I'll wait for a woman and we can recruit Claire McCaskill – someone who has already demonstrated her ability to earn respect on both sides of the aisle.

    Says our Missouri Senators in trying to decide who to endorse – Hilary is hard to work with. Obama has more respect in the Senate.

    To me – that's what important for a leader – someone who can get the parties to start working on the common good. Mrs. Clinton has continuously demonstrated that she doesn't have that skill.

    January 22, 2008 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  13. Richard Dangerfield

    I offer my thoughts from across the pond, and in the early hours of this morning I watched the debate.

    I am not a betting man, but if I was I would suggest that we saw the next President speaking last night. As to which one of the three, well that is down the American people.

    We need to understand that debating sometimes gets heated and personal. i would agree that it is not nice to see, but after the event you realise that a bit of passion will get more done than sticking a knife in slowly.

    You do not necessarily like to like someone to respect them, and in Obama and Clinton, that seems to be the case.

    As a Brit, i don't have a vote, but if I did I would back Obama totally, as he is the best candidate to unify within your country, and unify your country again within the world.

    I find it strange to see a country with rich diversity and culture playing ping pong with the Clinton and Bush families.

    Live the dream again and let us once again look up to you – VOTE OBAMA, as you may not get a better chance.

    January 22, 2008 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  14. Mary-Anne

    Sen Clinton's personal attacks, and dirt smearing on Sen Obama have lost her my vote, i want my party to be about the issues, and she can not seem to have a debate without getting into the gutter and trying to discredit somebody that is having Democrats turn out in record levels all across the country.

    I though John Edwards did well tonight, he stayed above the petty bickering, but as he is probably out of the race, my vote will go to Sen Obama, i beleive he can lead our country out of this darkness and unite us for a better future.

    January 22, 2008 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  15. The Observer

    One thing the debate showed is that if it comes to a fight then Clinton is a pitbull – something that is increasingly necessary in light of US foreign policy.

    In Clinton I see someone who would stand up for American interests abroad – Obama I seriously have doubts.

    January 22, 2008 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  16. More BS from Obama

    Obama must be the only visionary who does not actually tell you:

    (a) what that vision is

    and

    (b) how that vision is to be achieved.

    January 22, 2008 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  17. Virginia Weddington

    I watched the SC debate with great interest–best one I've seen so far for a realistic insight into candidates' personalities and potential directions of their term as president. A registered Republican, I was reluctantly considering voting for a Democrat–not now. It appears I am not black, poor, homeless, or uninsured enough to have any of these candidates be my choice. They need to consider the "whole" country, not just the disadvantaged. This country is in serious trouble and band-aid fixes just won't work.

    January 22, 2008 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  18. More BS from Obama

    Jen which debate were you watching.

    Obama – "er . .um . .er. .um . ."

    not just once or twice but throughout the debate.

    It looks to me as Mr Style Over Substance has been found out big time.

    January 22, 2008 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  19. d

    Well, I tuned into the debate for about 5 minutes folks. I saw the bitter bickering, and immediately tuned OUT. I am sick to death of this sort of political debate. I do not want to hear he said/she said..........or what wasn't said. If you ask me, it's the same-o, same-o politics that have gotten our country in the predicament that it is in today. I hope people see through the facade and pandering that these politicians seem to think we as Americans want. This is not the sort of Government I want to see............if any of these Democrats are elected into office, I fear bigger government. That is not what the country needs. We have way too much Governmental interference in our lives as it is.

    January 22, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  20. Jim

    The only person really that has had sense enough to be in the White House has been Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

    January 22, 2008 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  21. Anthony M

    baseman,
    not only are you a liar, but you probably work for one of theses campaigns, I bet you never had the honor to wear the uniform, I'm a combat wounded veteran and I did fight for this flag.....so please stop spreading these untruths, it's a waste of time anyhow, because no matter what people say everyone who is going to vote knows who they are voting for already and no one on these blogs are going to change anyones mind, and if you think you are you're kidding yourself.

    January 22, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  22. charlotte

    After watching the debates and reading these blogs. I'm convinced. Nothing can be said to change some peoples positions. The issues were overshadowed by personal differences. Obama was first on the attack. My answer to that is something I've taught my children, "do not write a check your ass can't cash". which is what Obama did. Edwards just looked dumbfounded, I like Edwards, however, he tends to get too personal. He likes to bring one particular persons name into each issue. Hillary is ready for anything that is thrown at her, Obama seem to hum-ha. His present vote was not answered. How will he drive down cost for health care? Is he going to ask them pretty please, lower your rates. I'm a really nice guy and would really like to help people. Life has shown me nice guys finish last. How much will he be willing to concede to unite. Politics is a give and take, an experienced politician takes more then they give. Will he pocket veto rather veto? He could always say he misplaced the bill. Maybe he jumped into this race now because he knows he won't get re-elected to another term as Senator in Illinois. Tried and true, that is Hillary Clinton. Stand up and be counted, that is Hillary Clinton. Take it on the chin, that is Hillary Clinton. Obama sidesteps or diverts the topic at hand and preaches to us. Join hands and love one another is a feel good notion. I wish we could do that but, I live in the real world

    January 22, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  23. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Clearly....we see how quickly Miss Congeniality can become vicious-and Mr. Obama showed he isn't above "slime throwing".

    All in all...the only candidate who actually presented the stature we've come to expect from a President–was John Edwards. Even when the others attempted to attack him–he remained calm and exerted logical responses–without getting overly emotional or attacking.

    He really shined.

    I was particularly proud of his stance on the current plan to "put rapid injection of money into the economy"....creating "tax incentives" for energy savings, injecting start up money into the communities to fund creation, technology, research, and sustainment of environmnental business opporunities–may not be as quick–but will show more return on the investment–than a one time windfall spent in the retail market.

    this sounds like the most fiscally irresponsible thing our government could do. Borrowing money (or in the case of the government-printing) money to stimulate the economy by giving it to citizens so they can spend it at Wal-Mart–is insane. Thats like budgeting so poorly you have to use your credit card to pay your house payment!!! If this would be an unwise thing to do in the household budget–why does anyone believe it will be a good thing for the government budget?

    January 22, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  24. Rena

    My scoring of the debates is:

    Obama, because he withstood his ground with the questions asked to him from CNN analyst.
    Clinton, because she always brings out her views in depth ness.
    Edwards, I feel like he is lacking in all areas. I definitely don't think that Edwards has what it takes to lead this nation.

    Who ever host the next Democratic debate, please ask questions of the candidates that matters to the America people. It is the media who is fueling this anger among Obama and Clinton. And certainly Mr. Bill Clinton is not helping the issue to die out. If there happen to be (he said, & she said) comments made during the course of the campaign please leave it at the campaign level and not bring those issues to the debates. We can read about them everyday, no need to waste precious air time slandering each other. We need a Democrat in the White House, and with all the bickering about nothing, something will go lacking and that I might say will be the America people.

    January 22, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  25. PJ, New York

    To all you Obama supporters, HE WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT.

    Also, it seems there are more Obama supporters who are dividing the Democratic party than there are Clinton. Most Obama supporters (who are Democrat) say they will either not vote or will vote Republican if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination. That is just ridiculous to say! This is exactly why there will be another Republican in the White House in 2009!

    As a true Democrat, I am supporting Hillary Clinton right now because I think she is the best choice. However, if Obama somehow should win the nomination, I'd get over Hillary's loss and support him so the Democrats don't lose the White House again.

    I guess maybe the Republican's are right, the Democrats are dividers! Though I agree on very little with the Republican's... at least they stay united, no matter what. Perhaps this is why they always win.

    January 22, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
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