The most popular debate question suggested for this week’s debates being organized by Politico, CNN, and the Los Angeles Times is no longer related to space policy, according to a check midday Sunday. For the Democratic debate January 31, the top-ranked most popular question is related to Gulf Coast hurricane relief, although space questions still dominate the overall list (13 of the top 15). For the Republican debate January 30, the top-ranked space policy question is now only the fourth most popular, after questions about the war on terrorism, Gulf Coast hurricane relief (the same as the top-ranked Democratic debate question), and taxes. For the Republicans, only 3 of the top 10, and 5 of the top 15, most popular questions are about space.
I suspect that these standings will lead some to call for a final round of voting to push space questions up in the standings. (The site doesn’t mention when the deadline for voting is.) However, the voting process remains something of a black box, with no clues about just how many votes the most popular questions have received, nor any statement about how—or even whether—the voting process will factor into the selection of questions for the debates. It’s easy for someone to go in, spend a few seconds clicking on the vote buttons for some questions, and think they’ve done their good space advocacy deed for the day. In the long run, that time might be better spent firing off an email (or fax or letter) to their favorite candidate(s) asking them directly some of the same questions being voted on at the Politico site.