Opinion: Debate stats

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It’s becoming a cherished tradition: When the Democratic presidential candidates gather for a debate, the Chris Dodd campaign breaks out the stop watch.

They did so for Wednesday night’s talkfest at Dartmouth University, and the speaking-time stats underscored that Hillary Clinton is the dominant figure in the race.

She logged 17 minutes and 37 seconds worth of air time -- roughly four minutes more than the second-place finisher, Barack Obama. Reflecting how Clinton’s been extending her lead in various polls (with the exception of that pesky little contest in Iowa), that’s a reversal from the figures for some of the earlier debates, when Obama led and she ran second.

One trend remains unshakable: Mike Gravel has a lock on being the least-heard (though he truly tries to make up for that by lashing out at his rivals at virtually every opportunity). A debate transcript is available here.

The New York Times’ Caucus blog also was watching the clock, and though its figures vary slightly from the Dodd campaign’s, Clinton still was the clear winner.

The Caucus offers another measuring tool -- a word count. And what did we learn from a careful study of these figures? Well, even though Bill Richardson and John Edwards had roughly the same amount of speaking time, the latter crams a lot more verbiage into his responses.


No surprise, given Edwards’ past life as a trial lawyer.

-- Don Frederick