Bing Measures the SOTU Gun Control Debate

Much of the State of the Union was going up and down in the Bing audience live ratings that allowed viewers to vote every five seconds during the speech. But I noticed a very interesting trend among all parties and both genders when President Obama started talking about gun control.


The average rating during his gun control rant was -75, and I never saw it drop lower at any other time during the speech.

UPDATE: Commenter Tim adds important context to the dramatic drop in support from viewers:

Fox News just stated that the largest spike in votes for the “Bing Pulse Tracker” occurred when the President began talking about gun control (+ 1 million). To see the highest spike in votes turn into highest dislike rate during the entire address is very telling of how Americans really feel.

49 thoughts on “Bing Measures the SOTU Gun Control Debate”

    1. “Nothing we’re going to do is going to fundamentally alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down to a thousand a year from what we’re at now,” Biden told reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats in the Capitol.

      These new gun laws are for what purpose ?

    1. They have now posted one of the entire speech.

      It was never in positive territory, but there were clear ups and downs. The drop near the end is the gun control commentary. I just happened to grab a screenshot just as he finished up the gun control call to action, and it included the portion of the speech before it started.

  1. Fox News just stated that the largest spike in votes for the “Bing Pulse Tracker” occurred when the President began talking about gun control (+ 1 million). To see the highest spike in votes turn into highest dislike rate during the entire address is very telling of how Americans really feel.

  2. Never mind. The GOP will still cave on gun control in their quixotic efforts to get the MSM/DNC axis to love them.

    For many Republicans in Congress, true joy consists in getting the occasional bored compliment from the NY Times.

    1. Regarding Republicans, one of my fundamental political theories is that everyone in government wants gun control, in some cases whether they know it or not. The reason is, they are in the business of ruling, and no ruler can tolerate the idea of the people having a viable means of saying “no” to whatever they dictate.

      Like most such things, it may not be true 100 percent of the time, but the times it is not true are so few that they are not worth considering as an operating scenario. Always act as it is true.

      1. I sometimes wonder how many in government fear an armed public when they finally figure out how badly they’ve been screwed by the big time spenders.

    2. Gun control is an existential test for the repub party. If they cave on an issue as fundamental and unifying as that, where they have repeatedly beaten the dems by big margins in the past, they are worthless. And unlike other negociations, where there was a deadline where something very bad happened if the repubs didn’t cave in and make a deal, this time there is no deadline, and the status quo, no new gun regs, is just fine. So any repub who caves on any new gun control “compromise”, has no excuse at all, and confirmes themselves as a worthless rhino. And any dem pretending to be a conservative dem will show their true colors if they vote for any new gun regs (are you listening Joe Manchin). And I am not just talking about the assault weapons ban, the proposal to limit magazine sises, and the proposal for background checks on private sales, are just as bad. Anybody vho votes for any of this BS has my undying emnety.

  3. Ironical? “We must limit magazines over 10 rounds” ’cause who needs more than that to protect themselves. Five minutes later: “Kudos to police officer who took 12 rounds and kept going” Huh??????

  4. What was the big positive spike?
    Any way to get a chart with what issue he was on labeled on the timestamp? I couldn’t bear to sit through the whole hour.

    1. There is a handy text guide that would tell you what came before gun control. :p That said, I believe with that timing, it was the paragraph before he started in on gun control where he said he was bringing in his campaign lawyers – along with lawyers who helped Romney – to look at ways to reduce waiting times to vote. It may have been the paragraph about helping vets, which was the paragraph before to voting efforts, but I think the refresh rate of the chart had moved that spike off the screen for this shot.

      1. Reduce time spent waiting to vote? Really? That’s an issue worthy of federal attention?

        At least when the economy collapses, we’ll know we’ll be able to vote quickly.

  5. I’m glad I have the excuse of being an old guy, because my wife and I sat down to watch it, and she was asleep before the president even walked in. I was asleep within a minute of when he started talking. (How would that have registered with Bing?) And that was without the help of alcohol!

    So, I’m curious: What was he saying about the things where Bing’s bar graphs show 100 percent negative reactions, like “Same Sex Marriage?” How do you piss off everyone on an issue? Or, please them, as with the 100 percent positive bar graph for “Education?” Is there something about Bing I don’t get?

    1. I think this post is pretty clear that he was talking about gun control when the ratings dropped so much. The longer he went on about gun control, the more the numbers edged down closer to -100. Between all parties, it was averaging -75.

    2. Never mind.

      I just woke up enough to understand what the bar graphs at the site are — the trends in opinions on the social networks. So I can see how some things could ring in early with one camp or the other on an issue registering heavily biased opinions. (It seems like a pretty useless bit of data, without additional information.)

      1. Yes, especially considering how few people on our side would use a hashtag like #gun-control rather than #gun-rights, although maybe they included related ones.

  6. I just read the text of the SOTU, the part about guns, and it was notably uninspired — a real snooze no matter which side you were on. Maybe the reactions were just to it being a really bad speech!

  7. I did not watch the State of the Union speech because I have a life, don’t need to see moral preening, don’t need to see strawmen knocked down, don’t think an hour of blatant lies is entertaining, I never do.

  8. Dawwww.. It’s so cute how you people cling to the belief that anyone in DC gives a damn about popular opinion.

    Look, my Senator, Bill Nelson, put up a poll on his website asking if people supported a new AWB. Over 90% said “No”.

    He came out saying he was going to support it anyway.

    They. Don’t. Care.

    And they’re going to try.

      1. So the solution is to take their power away! Do everything you can to make sure that their current term is their LAST term.

  9. Interestingly, he didn’t demand a passage. He demanded a vote. To me that seems like he is conceding that it probably won’t pass. But two reasons to demand at least a vote: A) To get senators and representatives on record B) Because sometimes crazy things happen.

    If he really wants A, he is really dumb. We’ll make all those who vote for it pay.

    1. No, you won’t. Because you don’t have the power to do anything. The NRA endorsement is a net negative, and getting worse. And Fox News promoting some loser Bing poll all day to game the results doesn’t change anything. Keep living inside the conservitard bubble while we go on with the business of running the country and keeping you lunatics as far away from power as possible.

      1. Says the guy from the state where so many pro-gun people turned up to the hearing today that an emergency permit had to be issued to open up more spaces in the building. Even then, anti-gun lawmakers are now reportedly demanding that the legislature refuse to hear testimony before taking votes. I’m not going to pretend like a fight in New Jersey isn’t an uphill battle, but don’t pretend that gun owners aren’t heavily involved in the political process across the country.

      2. Well when the anti-gun zealots get shrill we know we’ve done something right. Keep dreaming Ed — hope and change can’t last much longer.

      3. Hahaha, okay! The NRA endorsement is such a net negative that the only highly NRA rated senator to come out supporting anything has now completely changed his mind. And the fact that rally after rally, and call after call, the pro-gunners are completely outnumbering the anti-gunners.

        Love the name calling BTW. Really helps your side. Especially when I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian.

  10. I won’t apologize for being a dinosaur, because it took a long time to get here, but —

    Since last night, when I had no idea what Bing was based on, I now gather (and please correct me!) it monitors social media tweets and comments on whatever is going on, like the SOTU speech. (?)

    So, what is being monitored are the opinions of a bunch of fanatical geeks pecking at their laptops while the speech is going on? If so, it makes me proud of having fallen asleep!

    But if I’m right about how it works, my assessment is that what is being monitored is a lot of people motivated by their negativity to hover over their keyboards and pick away at the speech. Hardly a “scientific” measure of anything at all — if I’m right.

    That’s not a defense of Obama, certainly. But it is a challenge to what seems to be our boundless propensity for seeing optimism and widespread support, in total nonsense.

    Before the election I remember people finding optimism by counting the number of campaign signs and bumper-stickers they saw. It turned out they were wrong.

    1. I forgot to comment that, if my assumptions about how Bing works are most right, that would explain the 100 percent positive or negative bar graphs I questioned last night — they represent a network poised and prepared to comment on what the POTUS said, and thereby to influence things like Bing — so they could use their own silly little conspiracy to convince themselves of widespread support for their opinions.

    2. Bing is a search engine like Google or Yahoo. Just like Google and Yahoo, Bing also serves up relevant content to what’s going on in the country at the time. Yahoo does it through news, Google is most famous for doing it with their logos, and Bing decided to use their resources to do a promotional opinion survey with the SOTU.

      As for your dig about the reporting here of campaign signs and bumper stickers, the numbers actually show that those areas did flip in their support of Obama between 2008 & 2012.

      1. Sorry for the dig. I did remember you and/or Sebastian reporting on those things, but I also remember others stretching (IMO) with their comments to find optimism. So it was a broader-based dig than you may have taken it. :-)

        I pretty much knew what was going to happen overall in the election, but saying so probably would have gotten me death threats — so I never documented it.

        Here’s a True Fable that illustrates how easily one can be misled by too small political samples: In 1991 I managed a Libertarian campaign here in Bucks County, in which we had two superb Democratic poll workers campaigning for our candidate — out of pure, since-childhood friendship for the candidate. I have no idea what their magic was, but at the polling places where they worked, the Libertarian candidate won! Of course, overall he got only 13 percent, a distant fifth. But it was an illustration of how a local influence can create a perception in a microcosm that is totally out of bed with the general reality of the situation.

        I have also had the experience of seeing an “outsider” Republican challenger in a congressional primary come within a vote or two of beating the incumbent, at my polling place (little thanks to my efforts, I’m sure), rushing home after watching the vote count at the polls, expecting to hear a horse race reported as the votes came in, and instead hearing a typical 70 – 30 rout by the incumbent reported, as usually happens with such challenges here. I have tried to analyze our local anomaly ever since, and while I have a theory or two, the point is it was totally out of bed with virtually every other polling place in the county.

        Theme, I guess, is pay little attention to local signs and signals, and never relax.

  11. Yes, I’m sure Bing carefully verified that each self-described Democrat, woman, etc., actually matched his or her self-description. Because we know how painstaking Internet survey-conductors are about that sort of thing, right?

    1. Nobody here has claimed that this is a perfectly scientific sample. It is based on self-reporting of people who are interested in politics enough to actually watch the SOTU, be online at the same time, and feel like giving their opinion.

  12. Go look now, they have edited the charts to make them look more favorable to the President. Any +/-100% range is gone off of the y axis, looks like they just centered at the 50% disapprove mark, and called that middle of the road. New normal?

    1. That is interesting. Yeah, they did definitely screw with their data. Only a couple of points on the original graph got anywhere near neutral territory, and yet they now show half the speech as positive. I’ll also add that the Democratic spike they cite as the beginning of his gun control speech wasn’t actually the beginning, either. When I was watching live, that was only near the end of it when they were showing Gabby Giffords and lots of applause from the Democrats on the floor.

  13. I don’t want to imply that I totally discount “unscientific” polls, and I actually think they could be “scientific,” in a different way, if analyzed properly. I think they measure motivation. The faction that will, for example, tell all their friends to go online or on the phone to participate in an “unscientific” poll is better connected and better motivated, and that has political significance.

    But in simple terms I see danger in being deluded by the raw results. That almost any online poll about guns will eventually go pro-gun if it is left up long enough, tells us nothing except we have existing networks and high motivation. (How about that USA Today [I think?] poll that keeps being passed around, and has been running since November 2007?) The delusion of important popular opinion being on our side can cause us to become sloppy; and then when things fail to go our way, some of us will begin to see Great Conspiracies, vote-rigging, etc., etc., and the problem from that is that misidentify the nature of a political problem can never result in its proper solution.

    1. And you’re citing an example of a poll that has been up for 6 years as an accurate comparison of concerns with a poll that didn’t open until Obama stepped up to the podium and ended when he left? Again, that doesn’t mean it’s a scientifically accurate poll run by Bing, but the criticisms of the two methods of survey are wildly off base given the facts surrounding each.

      1. No, I only cited the six-year-old poll as an extreme example of longevity, because it is one that amuses me. There seems to be a cycle of 4 – 6 months between waves of people passing it along to me breathlessly. Quite often those people are the same ones (at our club) who passed it to me the last four or five times.

        But, I was comparing it to nothing. Since you brought it up, I think the difference is, the Bing data was instead biased by people who came prepared to render the opinions they did, before the last pre-SOTU commercial cleared the screen. Maybe they prepared for the last six years, instead of waiting for the next six. I would take neither example at their face values.

  14. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to arm people in order to prevent future tyranny. They need the tools to do this.

    The term “Well Regulated” in the Second Amendment meant “Well Manned and Equipped ” in 1791 as was determined in the 1939 United States v. Miller case after referencing the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The concept of Government Regulation, as we understand it today, did not exist at the time.

    United States v. Miller also determined that the term “Arms” refers to “Ordinary Military Weapons” (not crew operated). American Citizens have the right to Keep and Bear, which means Own and Carry, any weapons that a soldier carries into battle. That includes past, present and future weapons. A Militia consisted of armed volunteers willing to fight with their personal arms and not under government control.

    The 2008 Heller v. Washington DC decision reaffirmed that the Right to Bear Arms was an Individual right. The 2010 McDonald v. Chicago decision reaffirmed it yet again and made it clear that it applies to every state, every city and every town in the United States.

    To limit the Second Amendment to muskets would be the equivalent of limiting the First Amendment to the 18th century Printing Press.

    Liberty is worth the risk of death!

  15. Don’t let Bing’s data lull us into a false sense of security thinking that we can rest easy thinking the liberals can’t get a gun control bill passed.

    While I’d like to believe there are that many people who are opposed to gun control, I don’t live in a fantasy world. The liberals are smart and can manipulate data to make us think we’re safe… until it’s too late.

    We need to get the middle of the road people to make a decision based on facts, not on emotion. They are indeed either for us or against us.

    Let’s be smarter about this and remember, these idiots will never get it. They don’t like guns and, like most things the liberals believe, they believe they know what’s better for us than we do.

    They will never stop, therefore we must never rest easy and we must never stop our fight to keep the 2nd Amendment in practice as our Founding Fathers intended.

  16. How can anybody believe this mans lies any longer?Everything he says is already been mentioned within the last 4+ years.Does Obama not realize weve heard previous talks?Liz

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