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Are presidential debates overhyped?

 

We political junkies are all waiting with bated breath for the upcoming presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, eager to see how they might influence the outcome of the election.

But Nate Cohn argues HERE that presidential debates have never had much effect in November:

In the mythology of the modern presidential campaign, nothing looms larger than the debates. Elections are already compared to military conflicts, and three times every four years, Americans watch the two candidates battle it out onstage. This year is no different, and a chorus of political analysts is gearing up to argue that the debates will decide the election. But history suggests that these events won’t be as influential as the pundits or TV ratings suggest. In fact, in the past 50 years, they have not flipped the outcome of a single presidential election.

(Snip)

 It appears that most voters make up their minds before early October, usually the onset of debate season. In this environment, debates are more likely to reinforce existing perceptions rather than shake up the race. Presidential elections may be nearly as expensive as small wars these days, but the real battlefield is not the debate stage.   

UPDATE: THIS GUY also has big doubts about the impact of presidential debates.

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