Friday, October 5, 2012

Do presidential debates matter?

Of course they do.

For most voters, the chance to see the candidates live on TV is as close as they're going to come to seeing the candidates face-to-face.

A couple generations ago, when the candidates made "whistle stop" political campaign tours, maybe more people actually got to see them "up close and personal"…..

We're human—we have an innate capability to judge people when we can see them and talk with them in person, too bad everybody can't sit down to dinner with President Obama and Mitt Romney.

OK, the debates can be an interactive human experience.

Do the debates have anything to do with the election outcome?

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein says "No."

Klein cited a Gallup study that examined debates and elections back to 1960, and also mentioned other research, all pointing to this conclusion: the debates don't really move the needle to change who wins the election.

I'm guessing these are some of the reasons:

Debates come too late in the campaign…

There's too much emphasis on who "won" the debate, and not enough coverage and consideration of what the candidates actually said…

Maybe the debaters are just talking, and not really explaining anything…

Maybe the voters watching the debates are mostly gawking, waiting for the zinger…

Maybe most debate watchers have already made up their minds, and don't want to hear the other side…

Maybe the debates, after all, are nothing more than free TV ads for the candidates…

1 comment:

  1. Agree they come to late in the campaign particularly with early voting. How in god's name are citizens allow to vote before the 1st Tuesday of Nov. Do the last 30 days of an election mean anything. Could Obama or Romney stumble so badly that a voter's mind might change. Let's go back to voting on election day as it's meant to be.