The three presidential debates are over, and citizens now look forward to casting their votes on Nov 6. With less than a week before Election Day, both candidates are making their final bids to sway voters.
One of the biggest surprises this year was President Obama’s poor showing in the first televised debate on Oct 3. Many analysts are saying that if the president fails to win reelection, Obama’s much-maligned performance could be the cause. In a CNN poll of registered voters after the first debate, 70 percent said that the Republican challenger Mitt Romney won.
Though President Obama’s performance was rated much higher in the following debates, political analysts are finding that the debates themselves may not hold much importance to voters. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, debates made no difference for 47 percent of registered voters.
Some University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point students held similar opinions of the debate.
“I thought each debate offered a good background with both candidates, but I also think the debates alone shouldn’t be as big of an influence on voters’ decisions as some make them out to be,” said junior urban forestry major Benjamin Kollock, who watched all three of the presidential debates. “The debates definitely are important, and I think they help show an in-depth view of each candidate’s personality, which can be that one thing needed to convince an undecided voter to vote for them.”
Cassie Scott, a junior communication major, said that she did not watch the debates but felt that they do have at least the possibility of educating voters.
“I feel having the right to vote is a chance to make an impact and to choose who you believe would be the best candidate for presidency. Every person should have the personal drive to vote, regardless of all the political debates and advertisements,” Scott said. “The outcome will affect you, so it can change your life.”
Corey Lepak, a senior communication major who watched the first of this year’s presidential debates, found the debate important to watch but that it should not necessarily be the sole factor deciding which candidate someone votes for.
“I got to know the candidates a lot more than I did in any other format. It was pretty enlightening. I feel like the debates have some influence, but a lot of what people draw from the debates can be pretty overblown like, ‘Obama had a good debate’ or ‘Romney was the better debater.’ I don’t think any of that matters, come election time,” Lepak said.
Not all students agreed that the debates or politics in general were important.
“I honestly don’t really care at all because none of it really affects me right now,” said senior English major Theng Khang. “The debates are pretty much just drama between the candidates.”
With an Oct 24-28 survey by the Pew Research Center finding President Obama and Republican challenger Romney virtually tied at 47 percent apiece, this election will surely be as close as ever. Either candidate’s performance in the debates might just be the reason for any outcome.