These data suggest that the norm is for very little swing in candidate support following debates. Across all thirteen presidential debates the average absolute change in candidate support was 1 percentage point. There are a few notable exceptions, of course. Two that stand out are the second debate in 1992, following which George H.W. Bush lost 2 points, and first debate of 2004, after which George W. bush lost 2.26 points. Other debates with above average ( but still small) vote shifts are the first debate in 1996 and the second debates in 1988 and 2000. Each of these debates has its own story, and I'm sure we can all think of anecdotes to explain the bumps and wiggles. Although the analysis is terribly outdated by now, the debate model from Do Campaigns Matter? came to the profound conclusion that the candidate viewed as having won the debate generally gets a small bump (I told you it was profound).
Actually, what disappoints me is how the debates were taken from the oversight of the League of Women Voters and rolled into a committee of repubs and dems.
Why? Ross Perot. This occurred in 1998, after the two parties decided a third party candidate might pose a danger to the status quo.
Wikipedia has a nice entry re this for anyone interested. In part, the LWV stated "The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates...because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public. "
I'm not necessarily a third party guy, but this condition on the debates has just about eliminated a viable third party candidate in the future, and I think we're poorer for it...
Quote:Obama will present his "soak the rich" platform as always.
A Lone Voice. You want to see 'group think'. Here's Mr Group Think himself.
"It's the first time that things have been really loosened up -- where the candidates can direct questions to each other. There will be a question that goes to both of them, and they'll have two minutes each to answer. But then, there's five minutes that is wide open afterward -- for them to speak to each other, or me, the moderator, to ask follow-ups, then go to another question, etc.. And there will be nine segments like over almost 90 minutes."
No matter what, each question will be ignored and the candidate will answer the
question he wanted to be asked.
No matter what, everyone will try to score the performances rather than learn
anything from what was said.
No matter what, each side's supporters will award an overwhelming victory to
No matter what, no one will change his or her mind.
"This is a critical time for our country. While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the Administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis.
"I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Senator Obama's suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation's economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.
"If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now."