The 'Worm'

I’m not sure how many of you are aware that the Aussies are getting ready to elect a new Prime Minister but down here the main topic of political conversations has to be about the ‘worm.’

Now I know that most of you are asking ‘what the hell does a worm have to do with politics?’

This is not some environmental issue it is truly a political one.

You see, as most political geeks will tell you, many pollsters will have groups of people watch political debates and political speeches with a small dial like device. This device is like a volume indicator with a negative at one side and a positive at the other. As a person listens to the politician they will move the dial to the negative if they disagree or dislike what is being said and to the positive if they agree or like what is being said.

This creates line over time showing how they feel about the politician as they speak. Pollsters use this regularly to gauge the effectiveness of speeches and to test new ideas.

While the use of the worm is fine for pollsters what would you think if it was broadcast live during a debate?

Think about that for a moment: Hillary and Obama contending for the Democrat nomination and while each answers questions during a debate you see what a selected audience thinks about these candidates.

Is this a good idea or bad?
What if voting was compulsory? For those of you in Crestview (sorry I love Rush’s Rio Linda bit), compulsory means mandatory.
Might this group’s opinion of the candidates sway your opinion?
Would you trust that the people are truly undecided voters or would you think that they might have an agenda themselves?
If the group was chosen by CNN or Fox, would that make a difference?

Now here we are back in Oz. PM Howard and contender Rudd are debating the other night. In the agreement for the debate both agreed that the ‘worm’ would not be broadcast. Channel 9, a noted liberal leaning station, decided to broadcast the debate with the ‘worm.’ 20 minutes into the debate the National Press Corp. in Australia cut the feed to Channel 9. They quickly grabbed the feed from ABC and placed the ‘worm’ on the screen. This too was cut after a few minutes. Channel 9, did not wish to be the only station without the debate grabbed the feed from Skynet News and again added the ‘worm.’

I watched much of this debate and would have to say that I was very intrigued. It was noticeable that when the PM was on the screen there was an immediate reaction in the negative before he even said a word…highly unusual for undecided people. By contrast the opposite was true when Rudd took the stage.

So why am I wasting all this time talking about this stupid ‘worm?’ It is a process that is currently used by pollsters and was amazed that Aussie’s are actually paying this much attention to a small little thing like this as opposed to the outright pilfering of the PM’s tax proposal by the opposing party.

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