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Romney Speaks 8+ Minutes More than Closest Rival at SC Debate

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FOX gives the GOP frontrunner 8 minutes and 23 seconds more speaking time than his closest competitor - the largest gap in the debates thus far

mittromney11.jpgWhile the frontrunner for the Republican nomination has fluctuated dramatically during the past several months, one thing that has remained fairly consistent is the relative amount of speaking time Mitt Romney has been afforded by the various news outlets moderating the GOP presidential debates.

Since the Republican field was set after Rick Perry entered the race in August, the former Massachusetts governor has spoken more than any other candidate in nine of the 13 subsequent debates, and second most in the remaining four.

In the first debate since the number of candidates was winnowed to just five after Jon Huntsman suspended his campaign on Monday, little changed on the debate stage.

A Smart Politics study finds that Mitt Romney spoke 8 minutes and 23 seconds longer than any other candidate in Monday's South Carolina debate - the largest gap at the top of the leader board recorded by any candidate across the 13 debates conducted since September.

Romney spoke for 22 minutes and 22 seconds in the FOX News / Wall Street Journal debate, or 31.4 percent of the total candidate speaking time.

Romney was the only candidate to speak more than what would have been an equal distribution of face time of 20.0 percent.

Romney was followed by Rick Santorum at 13 minutes and 59 seconds (19.6 percent), Newt Gingrich at 13:22 (18.8 percent), Ron Paul at 12:01 (16.9 percent), and Rick Perry at 9:26 (13.3 percent).

Total Speaking Time in the FOX / Wall Street Journal South Carolina GOP Presidential Debate

Candidate
Time
Percent
Mitt Romney
22 min. 22 sec.
31.4
Rick Santorum
13 min. 59 sec.
19.6
Newt Gingrich
13 min. 22 sec.
18.8
Ron Paul
12 min. 01 sec.
16.9
Rick Perry
9 min. 26 sec.
13.3
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

A portion of Romney's advantage was due to rebuttals, particularly after being the object of several attacks launched by the field during the first quarter of the debate - with many of these attacks prompted by moderator questions. (Romney has been perennially under attack - though perhaps not always effectively - throughout the previous dozen debates).

What made the third South Carolina debate noteworthy is the gap between Romney's speaking time and that of his closest competitor for the microphone.

The 8 minute and 23 second gap between Romney and Santorum was the largest by Romney - or any candidate - across these last 13 debates.

The previous largest gap took place during in the second New Hampshire debate moderated by Bloomberg and The Washington Post back in mid-October.

During that debate, Romney spoke for 7 minutes and 56 seconds longer (18:12) than the next closest Republican candidate, Rick Perry (10:16).

Romney has also spoken for at least five more minutes than his closest rival on the stage in three other debates: the third New Hampshire debate moderated by ABC News (+7:28 over Santorum), the Michigan debated moderated by CNBC (+5:32 over Gingrich), and the Nevada debate moderated by CNN (+5:12 over Perry).

The remaining four members of the GOP field will have one more chance to seize the stage from Romney before the South Carolina primary this Saturday during Thursday's CNN gathering in Charleston.

Romney Speaking Time Advantage Over Closest Rival in GOP Presidential Debates

Debate
Romney
Closest Rival
Difference
Time Rank
SC 3
22:22
13:59
+8:23
1
NH 2
18:12
10:16
+7:56
1
NH 3
20:23
12:55
+7:28
1
MI
14:51
9:19
+5:32
1
NV
17:22
12:10
+5:12
1
IA 2
17:40
13:11
+4:39
1
NH 4
14:14
10:43
+3:31
1
FL 2
12:01
10:08
+1:53
1
SC 2
8:45
8:12
+0.33
1
DC
11:32
12:08
-0:36
2*
IA 3
13:03
14:45
-1:42
2*
FL 1
10:56
13:48
-2:52
2**
CA
11:49
14:49
-3:00
2**
* Behind Newt Gingrich. ** Behind Rick Perry. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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1 Comment


  • This bias in favor of Mitt Romney is so obvious, and also misguided. They will regret it if he faces Obama and loses, although it probably will be a close race until the very end. Divide and conquer, the donkeys and elephants both do it, they're simply two sides of the same dirty (very dirty) coin.

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