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Do presidential debates usually matter? Political scientists say no.

To be honest, I don't know but I do watch them and listen to the responses to better inform myself about the candidates. Not so much their position, which is spelled out well before any debates happen, but to guage their ability to handle pressure and how well they support their positions. I begin by acknowledging that they're going to spin data to support their positions so I pretty much ignore what they actually say.

The one thing I CAN say about debates is that they have been hailed as significant in past elections. Reagan made a HUGE impression in his debates with Carter and most pundits agree that it put him solidly in the lead. JFK jumped ahead of Nixon in their debates and pundits credit Nixons poor performance (and bad makeup) for JFKs win.

Most of the time I think it's a toss-up but once in awhile a debate can have a defining moment that propels one candidate to greater heights. I don't think that happened in this debate but it was certainly a poor performance by Obama. It may be that he just doesn't care that much about the debates because he thinks he's got the election sown up. Every politician has a pretty large ego and with polls reporting huge leads for Obama he may just be going through the motions.

I think the next debate will be the defining one. Obama's handlers know how poorly he did and will be pushing him to really jump out in the next one. If he does he can gain back all that this may have cost him but if he does as poorly in the next one it may have a serious effect on undecided voters.


PS I thought your post deserved a serious answer as it seemed to be a serious question.
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