Who Won the NBC News Florida Republican Debate

After the Florida debate ended, mainstream news outlets exploded across the country with debate analyses.  Most media outlets claimed that Newt Gingrich won the debate including Forbes.  Even political analysts at NBC felt that Newt Gingrich won.  Why?  They asserted that Gingrich took “the higher ground” by not engaging into petty debating with Mitt Romney, acting comfortable, and not attacking mainstream media. 
Putting the opinions of mainstream media aside, who really won the debate based on data?  Below is a graph of Intrade price fluctuations during the debate.  An increase in the price indicates that the probability of the candidate winning the presidency improved during the debate whereas a decrease in the price indicates the opposite.

This graph clearly shows that Mitt Romney won during the debate according to Intrade users.  Despite mainstream media claiming that his attacks against Newt Gingrich were negative, it appears that this strategy actually improved Romney’s chances of winning.  In fact, out of all of the debates, this is the largest increase any candidate has ever seen on Intrade.  Mitt Romney may be wise to continue this debate strategy in the future.
Rick Santorum appears to have come in second in last night’s debate, however, it should be noted that no one traded on his shares during the debate.  This can either be good or bad.  It can be good because individuals may have thought that his debate performance had no effect on his campaign.  It could be bad because Intrade users may think that Rick Santorum isn’t a viable candidate anymore.  Currently Rick Santorum’s probability of being president is equal to that of Hillary Clinton.

Newt Gingrich, contrary to mainstream media’s claims, actually suffered a price decrease during the debate indicating that his new debate tactics actually hurt the probability of him winning the presidency.
Ron Paul did poorly in last night’s debate with a price decrease of .9% indicating that during the debate, his probability of winning the presidency decreased by roughly 1%.  It should be noted that he only received 8 questions whereas Romney received 21, Gingrich received 21, and Santorum received 12. Further, it appeared as though Gingrich and Romney were occasionally given more response time per question than Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were given. In the historic debate where Ron Paul only received 89 seconds of speaking time on air, we found a strong correlation between speaking time and debate results.  This debate can be viewed here.
Barack Obama was the biggest loser in last night’s debate.  The probability of him winning the presidency decreased by 1.1% during the debate, however, he currently stands with a 55.6% chance of winning the presidency. 

Intrade is a website where people can bet on political outcomes.  As more people bet toward the probability of some event occurring, the price of that event increases.  You can watch the video the debate here.  Who do you think won the debate?

Share this article


  1. I thought that Obama was going to be the clear winner of last night’s debate. The candidates were ripping into each other bitterly.