When Al Gore and George W. Bush debated in 2000, the network commentators were sure Gore had won decisively.

Bush kept repeating the same old lines while Gore showed a mastery of policy details, poking large holes in Bush’s arguments, the commentators said.

But, then the polls came out.

The people watching at home liked Bush better.

Gore had worn some strange orange makeup that made him look like, well, Donald Trump.

He also kept sighing whenever he thought Bush made a mistake. It was off putting and voters did not take to it well.

The same can be said of the State of the Union addresses by President Bill Clinton.

Commentators, such as Peggy Noonan (speaking of off putting), ridiculed Clinton as self absorbed and knocked the length of his speeches.

Then polls would come out showing people loved them.

So, it was no surprise that your morning news feed Friday was full of analysis of a Democratic debate with commentators opining that Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a wishy-washy night and former vice president Joe Biden won the day.

Several columnists said it was Biden’s best performance yet.

Except a Fivethirtyeight-Ipso poll showed just the opposite.

Warren was the clear winner and Biden had struggled, according to actual voters.

Here’s the thing: Voters who voluntarily watch political events view them differently than those who are paid to watch.

Voters are impressed by personality, likeability, relate-ability, not the fine points of policy disagreements.

If Biden seemed old, if Warren seems like she’s on the side of the working class, it registers with voters.

Voters also don’t like personal attacks, which is probably why Juan Castro did so poorly in the poll.

You can’t trust the opinion of political commentators — except this one.

Elsewhere in politics:

  • It has been stated elsewhere, but it deserves to be repeated: Vaping has killed six people and the administration wants to ban it.

Assault weapons have killed hundreds and they remain perfectly legal.

  • Speaking of assault weapons, one month after an anti-immigrant gunman murdered 22 mostly Hispanic people and wounded 24 others in El Paso, Texas, Fox News personality Tomi Lahren is advocating people arm themselves to deal with immigrants.
  • There have been lots of complaints in Boston about single drivers clogging up car-pool lanes during heavy commute hours.

Just to be clear, by single drivers they mean drivers with no one else in the car, not unmarried drivers.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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