The worm

The Herald reports:

Expect even more relentless repetition of upbeat language than usual from Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff as returns for tonight’s leaders’ debate on .

The debate will use the Reactor, more commonly known as “the worm”, to measure the response of a studio audience of undecided voters selected for a balance of gender and age.

TV3 and Roy Morgan invite viewers who have an iPhone, Android mobile, iPad or tablet device to participate.

You can download the reactor or worm here.

Personally I think such things are gimmicks that distract people from the substance of the debate. My hope (a forlorn one probably) is that the media don’t make the worm the headline the next day, but actually you know listen to the debate themselves and form their own opinions as to the strengths and weaknesses of the the leaders arguments. The result of the worm should be a mention in the story, but not the core focus of it.

The fact that anyone can download the worm, means that the results may have nothing to do with the debate, and everything to do with people’s pre-extsing opinions. I really can’t see a lot of undecided voters caring enough to download the worm – the partisans will.

And even the studio audience of undecided voters can be less than balanced. They may be undecided between Labour and Greens, or between Maori and Mana. In my opinion they would be better to have the studio audience comprised of “swinging voters”, being voters who have voted (for example) for both a CR and a CL party in the last few elections. An undecided voter tends to be anti-Government because the Government is the known quantity, and they are deciding which of the alternatives to vote for.

So my point is, yes the worm may be a lot of fun. But please do not let the results of the worm be represented as a scientific poll, and do not let it replace your own judgement about the debate. Tune into TV3 and watch for yourself, rather than rely on second hand reports.

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