The Presidential Debates: Making or Breaking Candidates

If you ask any AP Gov student how many Presidential debates they’ve watched, they’d most likely reply with “too many”. However, these 45 students are part of the few who actually know about all the candidates who are running for president and their positions on different issues. These are the students who will be able to be informed voters because they are able to form their own opinion after they have been given all different perspectives from all different sides. If you’ve read my last two articles, you would know just how important our votes are- especially when we are in the process of weeding out bad presidential candidates.

Debates can make or a break a candidate. For example, in the first Republican debate, Carly Fiorina, the only female Republican candidate, polled under the top ten candidates and was seated at the “kid’s table”. Then as the second debate rolled around she performed so well at the “kid’s table” that she got more supporters and moved up to the real debate. On the other hand on the Democratic side, we also had Lincoln Chafee who performed so poorly on his first debate that his poll numbers dropped dramatically. This caused him to drop out of the race entirely.

In addition, debates also give us insight into who the candidates are as human beings, not just as well groomed, carefully orchestrated personalities.  Their flaws are exposed for all to see, and they expect us to judge them based upon how they deal with setbacks, embrace their flaws, and attempt to lay out a vision for the path for our country.  The beauty of a debate is we will never agree 100% with everything a single candidate says, but we can evaluate them based upon how closely our views are aligned.

As young adults, we are currently in the state of finding out who we are and who we want to be. Debates allow us to figure out personal political beliefs as well as our thoughts on how the world should work. By challenging, agreeing, and listening to what these people are saying to us, we are forced to think about, and sometimes question, our own values in order to fairly evaluate these people who want to be the next leader of our country. Sometimes it is better to just sit back and listen to other people debate and allow yourself to think about what your personal ideology is before debating the issues with someone.

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