After the first three debates on National television, three mainstream news channels featured polls asking the American people who won. After the first debate on May 3rd, MSNBC ran a poll obtaining over 72,000 responses showing Ron Paul was the most convincing candidate receiving 45% of the vote. His nearest competitor was Mitt Romney who received 18%. Fox news ran its own poll after the second debates on May 15, and with over 40,000 votes Ron Paul came in second with 25% of the vote. Watching Sean Hannity's face was priceless as while he was saying that Ron Paul's chances were over in this election, Fox's polling numbers flashed across the screen and had Ron Paul in the lead. He immediately did his best spin to claim the polls had been rigged. MSNBC also ran a poll about that debate and discovered Ron Paul was, again, the most convincing candidate with 64% of the over 25,000 responses. After the third debate on June 5, CNN's poll of over 25,000 respondents showed Ron Paul won with 60% of the vote.
One would think with such a strong showing on the online polls for a "second tier" candidate that the mainstream media (MSM) would have discussed this phenomenon at length and on the front page. However, no such stories appeared. In fact, MSM pundits did their best to ignore these figures and instead focused mainly on who they deemed to be the top three choices; effectively, taking control of the election and deciding quite undemocratically who was a "real" candidate.