Do U.S. presidential debates matter?
October 3rd, 2012
02:28 PM ET
10 years ago

Do U.S. presidential debates matter?

(CNN) - After months of talking about each other and their policies, the world finally gets to see Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney go toe-to-toe on the same stage in a series of three televised debates ahead of the U.S. election.

Unlike other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where the prime minister must defend his policies under televised duress from the opposition nearly every week, face-to-face showdowns between the two men fighting for the White House only happen every four years.

Tune to CNN for Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.


Filed under: 2012
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Do U.S. presidential debates matter?"

    Your horse race narrative certainly hopes they don't, eh CNN?

    To be frank, I'd love to see us allow more direct interaction so we can see a POTUS defend himself. The initial reaction to their schooling would have been the House and Senate GOPers/Teatrolls walking out in a huff, crying in the hallways and retreating to friendly media outlets to whine about the big mean ole 'elitist' POTUS and his edumacated trouncing of their nonsense over the past 4 years. Instead, we have to tolerate their crap, he has to tolerate their crap and nothing ever gets done because the public never witnesses the two having it out and airing it all. That's not "mature" or more "statesmanlike"'s a thin veneer of those things covering a blatant unwillingness and cowardice on both sides to get down and dirty. In fact, you can tell just how it would go over with the GOP/tearolls when you see how butthurt they get at VEILED criticism during a state of the union address. Pantwetters.

    October 3, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Boo

    The debates matter when you have a candidate like Robme who REFUSES TO GIVE SPECIFICS TO ANY OF HIS PLANS.....

    October 3, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Doesn't matter to me – I voted (with a bunch of others) yesterday. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    October 3, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Wolfgal

    Yes, they do matter as it gives the ill-informed voter a chance to really see the two parties at work. Let's compare facts – what was one going to do and what has that one actually achieved? What can the other one do? Having said that, a track record of anyone in office over the last 4 years should also give the voters plenty of information. Did all that euphoria 4 years ago really produce what you expected? Whether or not the voters are able to digest the past 4 years and see the implications is another matter. It doesn't matter who is the better speaker at the end of the day since many people have gotten away with murder based on who presented the better case, right? People need to really look deep into their own conscience at the end of the day.

    October 3, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    NO!!!!! Not realy. President Obama 65% Romeny35%

    October 3, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Debates matter if one is a policy voter, ones mind could change in a split second from party to candidate or vice versa and these are the same people who aren't concerned about polls.

    October 3, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. rs

    Yes, I think they do. They are perhaps the one unique event where the questions and answers are aimed at the bigger audience, and not completely scripted-much different from the "preaching to the choir" we now see so much of at candidate forums (remember when people of all party affiliations could attend candidates' rallies?). The debates are sort of the last chance to see the candidates not only answer questions, but to also describe policy positions and initiatives and show their mastery of specific topics/concerns and issues.

    Are the make or break? Depends. Clearly (like with primaries) there are clear advance favorites and expectations that seem to make "winning" debates a pretty fluid affair. For Mr. Romney- who has thus far been unable either describe particular specific policy tracts, or create some resonance with the American people, this might be such an event.

    October 3, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    Yes, the certainly do matter and I intend to enjoy every minute watching Willard be Willard like he was in that video in Florida.

    October 3, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Phil Thomas

    This Debate Matters, every right wing message board troll is hanging their hopes that Mitts some how pulls a Doug Flutie like Hail Mary and pulls it off. Just like they did with the convention, like they do with all of these 10-15 year old videos they keep dusting off and releasing as Exclusive when they have been around the Internet for years. These guys are cooked, T Minus six hours for you guys to dream

    October 3, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. MrBeenThere

    Hopefully it well let those see what a Fake wanna be President Mitt would be.......... Mitt reminds me of M.A.S.H , remember ferret face Frank Burns........

    October 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. mactsr

    Willard need to explain why he thinks the middle class is an annual income of $200.000-$250,000. Funny I alway thought I was middle class with an income of $78,000 a year.

    October 3, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    OBAMA12. It does not matter at all– mr. 47%.

    October 3, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  13. 2HHEELS2

    they matter a lot if the American people get answers. IT will matter if Mitt stays with one answer to one question and doesn't flip flop on stage.

    October 3, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. Facts don't Lie

    I think they only matter IF the person you're supporting does well in them. If they do then you're happy, if not then it seems like they might lose. In case of tomorrow's debate if Romeny does anything BUT have a Rick Perry "oops" moment then the right wing will declare him the winner..just watch.

    October 3, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Howard

    Obama conned the American people, in order to grab power. Much of the money has gone to Obama cronies, to buy campaign contributions, and to buy Obama votes. Obama's entire Presidency has been a campaign for reelection. Obama is destroying America. If he gets a second term, he will finish the job. Obama, and the Obama stooges love Obama more than they love America. America is more important than Obama. Obama is expendable, and replaceable ... America is not. In November, save America ... Dump Obama !!!

    October 3, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would hope that people watch tonight. If they aren't sure, this could give them some ideas. I would also like to see that the minor parties get in on one debate or have one of their own. Not having them involved is a disservice to the democracy we claim to be along with many people not voting.

    October 3, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Now you would believe,
    That the Command Structure runs the Military. You would be wrong! It is the privates that really run the Army. But you knew that didn't you? The people that post here are way smarter than Romney for instance. No kiddin" So who needs Debates! Who??

    October 3, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. GOP = Greed Over People!

    Nope, there is nothing any member of the GOP could say to make me ever vote republican again.

    October 3, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |