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October 15, 2008


This is a weird argument. A game changer really is momentum related to a campaign. Could McCain generate momentum, or stop Obama's? And though Brendan seems to think someone believes that debates have a tremendous effect on elections, I don't know of anyone who feels that way.

Regardless, whether the second debate in 1980 had an effect on an election has nothing to do with whether the third debate in 2008 has an effect on an election. Debates aren't held in a vacuum to where you can say that the format can't influence people.

There also could be external elements that cancel out momentum. A candidate could perform really well in a debate and then make a huge gaffe the next day that erases that little bit of momentum. Candidates do not perfectly match voters preferences, so some people change day to day as to what they feel is significant.

I think debates have an effect on polls, but I don't know what Brendan thinks is significant. I mean .1% of voters (assuming 2004 numbers) is 120,000 people. Depending on where they live, even that small amount swayed could affect an election. And who knows what down ballot elections are affected.

Brendan seems to be arguing that no debate has ever caused a landslide, instead of affecting an election. I look at campaigns as living, changing entities, constantly changing the views of the populous. I'd like to see more research done as to what influences voters, including debates.

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