Before this debate on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (i.e., perhaps the best possible location for Caplan and Co. in the U.S. — the Upper West Side is Ground Zero for the intellectualized Ellis Island ancestor worship schmaltz that dominates the mainstream media worldview on immigration), 46% of the audience started out for Open Borders, 33% undecided, and only 21% against.
After the debate, pro-Open Borders dropped from 46% to 42%, undecideds dropped from 33% to 9%, and Against soared from 21% to 49%.
This is apparently one of the larger swings in IntelligenceSquared debate history.
Bryan Caplan has been lamenting his defeat at great lengths upon his blog. He has too many recrimination posts to link to individually, but one theme is that his partner, the charming Vivek Wadhwa, treasonously betrayed Caplan's side by just not being extremist enough.
Here's something worth noting that Caplan wrote last summer:
Think about it like this: Steve Sailer's policy views are much closer to the typical American's than mine. Compared to me, he's virtually normal. But the mainstream media is very sweet to me, and treats Steve like a pariah. I have to admit, it's bizarre.
That I'm moderate and sensible, coming out of the mainstream of the American intellectual opinion going back to Ben Franklin, contributes to the hatred toward me.
It's amusing how several of the more Straussian intellectuals who react to my siting myself squarely in the center of prudent reasonableness do so by emphasizing their most extremist positions: "Let anyone take a job anywhere!" "Let them eat beans!" "Let everyone grow up in a highrise apartment like I did!" Others pretend that an absurd strawman version of me represents the media mainstream: "The conventional wisdom is that your IQ score represents the only thing important about you, but the latest brain scans prove this universal dogma wrong!"