Our insiders were split on the importance of debates in a general election campaign, with many saying they really only help a challenger get some attention.
The debate issue has raised its head again as challengers like Scott Howell and Mia Love say their opponents are ducking debates. How much do you think debates matter during a general election campaign?
Some anonymous comments:
Debates are like pro wrestling, it is done for the entertainment of the crowd, not for the rational discussion. Truly informing the public and reaching out the opponents voters can't be done in a debate.
It is important to know what the candidates stand for.
National level debates are important. Otherwise, voters are watching football or soap operas.
Is Matheson actually ducking debates? I thought he agreed to 4...
In Love's case, debates will show what a novelty lightweight she is. For Howell, it will help as Hatch shows how far he's meandered into senility.
They could make a difference if people actually paid attention to them. Most people just vote for the familiar name rather than actually researching the candidates.
It's very important to see if candidates can "think on their feet" and answer questions in an intelligent, thoughtful way under pressure. A president, on anyone representing us, needs to be able to do that, many times when the security of the country is at stake!
I don't think it ever changes more than a few percentage points and only then when the differences are stark. The only race where I think it could matter is Love/Matheson.
Debates for Utah races almost never impact the outcome. A bad gaffe by an imcumbent or favorite certainly could have some impact - if the media expands the gaffe. Just don't think most local folks will actually watch or listen in order to decide their choice of a candidate.
This depends entirely on whether the debate is broadcast and how broad the reach is. Few genuinely undecided voters watch a debate; debates are generally attended by supporters, activists and party faithful--not the persuadables a candidate must target to move the needle. Debates matter far more to challengers and unknown candidates as an opportunity to share their message and platform. For incumbents with solid name ID and an established record on critical issues, debates are riddled with risk for gaffes and distortion.
Debates are fun to watch for political junkies but at the state level they have little impact on the outcome of elections.
Debates allow voters to get a real view of the candidate, not a script paid for by special interests.
Debates should matter, should be the most important event in a campaign. but they are meaningless, no one cares. Why didn't Scott Howell learn from Dan Lilljenquist? No one cares.
They are particularly important to allow non-incumbents (of either party) to get their message across. Utah is becoming infamous for its low turnout in elections; the commission appointed by Gov. Huntsman to study this concluded that too few Utahns believe their vote will make a difference. By promoting real contests on important issues, debates make our democracy work better.
Debates inherently favor lesser known challengers as it gives them an opportunity to become known (at the expense of the incumbent). The issue never comes up when there is no incumbent. The debates are powerful opinion shapers. Just look how volatile the republican debates were earlier this year. Just like Presidential candidates can't duck debates without losing cred and points in the polls, there should be incentives/punishment of some type for incumbents that won't stand at the lectern with his/her opposition.
Hatch won't debate because he's slipped so much with age. Matheson will debate once he fully realizes how much trouble his campaign is in.
Debates are an opportunity for a challenger to make up ground, but rarely for a front runner which is why incumbents always resist debating as much as a challenger wants. Debates are usually most important in a close race. Otherwise, a few isolated debates have minimal impact.
The challenger has everything to gain and the incumbent has only to lose. Matheson and Hatch probably are ducking.
That answer applies to presidential debates primarily and the most hotly contested high profile races. People are interested in Matheson-Love, but that's the only Utah race that registers at all.
Ask Rick Perry if debates matter. Let's hope there are lots of debates in the next two months because there is definitely the potential for some Perryesque moments with our current crop of candidates. We need the entertainment.
They do allow you to see the candidate perform but there is too much hype and drama associated with them. Why and when did we determine that a good candidate must look and sound good in media to be considered worthy?
Debates traditionally only help the challenger. They only give the incumbent a chance to make a mistake, and the challenger to get free exposure. If I'm advising Matheson and Hatch I'd dodge them too.
Debates are an important part of the process and much more helpful for challengers generally to be able to draw distinctions between those they are running against.
The head-to-head really allows you to contrast the candidates. The biggest problem is that debate moderators generally do not allow candidates to really go back and forth.
Both of the challengers will not look good on a stage with sitting incumbents. Debate cries are just publicity efforts. That being said, incumbents shouldn't duck them.
Mia Love is crazy to be pushing for debates! Jim will walk all over her in any debate! I would say that rarely would a debate affect a race but this could be tragic for Mia Love!
Well, they're important to ME! And people like me, but I don't know if Joe-six-pack (of de-caffeinated Coke) actually pays attention.
People need to know how their candidates perform in a head to head discussion. It reflects poorly on a candidate who refuses to meet with their opponent.
Debates are only important one of the participants says something massively stupid.
It is easy for the challenger in a race to throw the accusation of ducking debates knowing full well that their opponent has a job to do, in addition to the campaign. The draw on a debate is typically the incumbent, and frankly, the incumbent has no obligation to raise the profile of his challenger.
But only if there is a significant undecided and if there is enough interest in the race to generate an audience. I think the only race in that category locally may be the Matheson/Love. Is she does well, it could be a significant factor. If he does well, "that is just be be expected."
Debates are a useful tool where a candidate is tasked with outlining and defending positions. Often it is from a debate where we will hear a candidate slip up and have a moment of candor that defines them. Campaigns can control the message to a point, debates help remove that shield for the public.
Debates can be important, that's why you duck them when you're winning or going to win.
Is anyone shocked that an incumbent would try to avoid an opportunity for their opponent to gain ground?
Debates are important and can change an election if they actually take place. That's usually the reason not many of them do.
In the presidential races, debates are very important. On the state level, not so much unless there is a huge gaffe. Gov. Herbert did not debate well against Peter Corroon but still won in a landslide.
Respondents include -
Fred Adams, Stuart Adams, Jess Agraz, Scott Anderson, Laura Arellano, Patrice Arent, Bette Arial, Neil Ashdown, Bruce Baird, Tom Barberi, Heather Barney, Steve Barth, Jeff Bell, Tom Berggren, Mike Bertelsen, Ron Bigelow, Emily Bingham-Hollingshead, Rob Bishop, Laura Black, Nanci Bockelie, Charles Bradley, Jim Bradley, Ralph Brown, Chris Bleak, Curt Bramble, Joel Briscoe, Ralph Brown, Aaron Browning, Ken Bullock, Ric Cantrell, Maura Carabello, Marty Carpenter, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Kay Christensen, David Clark, Kim Coleman, Peter Corroon, Tim Cosgrove, Fred Cox, Lew Cramer, Gene Davis, Richard Davis, Brad Daw, Alan Dayton, Margaret Dayton, Mike Deaver, Brad, Dee, Joseph Demma, Jake Dennis, Dan Deuel, Jeff Dixon, Brian Doughty, Carl Downing, Randy Dryer, Susan Duckworth, Donald Dunn, Alan Eastman, Becky Edwards, Scott Ericson, Chase Everton, Jessica Fawson, Janice Fisher, Wendy Fisher, Lorie Fowlke, Ronald Fox, Claire Francis, Ryan Frandsen, Adam Gardiner, Jordan Garn, Ernie Gamonal, Luke Garrott, Dave Gessel, Sheryl Ginsberg, Natalie Gochnour, Robert Grow, Karen Hale, David Hansen, Neil Hansen, Joe Hatch, Jeff Hartley, Dan Hauser, Lynn Hemmingway, Deidre Henderson, Neal Hendrickson, Casey Hill, Lyle Hillyard, Kory Holdaway, Randy Horiuchi, Ben Horsley, Bruce Hough, Scott Howell, Greg Hughes, Miriam Hyde, Allison Isom, Casey Jackson, Eric Jergensen, Mike Jerman, Jonathan Johnson, Michael Jolley, Gordon Jones, Leslie Jones, Pat Jones, Kirk Jowers, Jeremy Keele, Brian King, Scott Konopasek, Steve Kroes, Chris Kyler, Carter Livingston, Fred Lampropoulos, Clark Larsen, Douglas Larson, David Litvack, Larry Lunt, Matt Lyon, Ben McAdams, Daniel McCay, Gayle McKeachnie, JT Martin, Maryann Martindale, Jason Mathis, Bob Mayhew, Karen Mayne, Bret Milburn, Derek Miller, Rob Miller, Ethan Millard, Brett Millburn, Karen Morgan, Jeffery Morton, Mike Mower, Holly Mullen, Wayne Niederhauser, Mike Noel, Randy O'Hara, Ralph Okerlund, James Olsen, Val Oveson, Kelly Patterson, John Pearce, Helen Peters, Karen Peterson, Frank Pignanelli, Becky Pirente, Marie Poulson, Jason Powers, Tami Pyfer, Joe Pyrah, Mike Reberg, Jill Remington Love, Lauren Richards, Holly Richardson, Robin Riggs, James Roberts, Luz Robles, Ross Romero, Carol Sapp, Don Savage, Bryan Schott, Shauna Scott-Bellaccomo, Jay Seegmiller, Jennifer Seelig, Patrick Shea, Randy Shumway, Soren Simonsen, Jeremy Slaughter, Brendan Smith, Brian Somers, Carol Spackman-Moss, Robert Spendlove, Barbara Stallone, Howard Stephenson, David Stringfellow, Mike Styler, Shinika Sykes, Juliette Tennert, Gary Thorup, Kevin Van Tassell, Royce Van Tassel, Doug Thompson, Michael Waddoups, Laura Warburton, Chuck Warren, Christine Watkins, LaVarr Webb, Todd Weiler, Alan West, Mark Wheatley, Larry Wiley, Ted Wilson, Carl Wimmer, Mike Winder, Travis Wood, Thomas Wright, Crystal Young-Otterstrom
Results from the UtahPolicy.com/KSL Insider poll can be heard on KSL Radio every Friday and are published on Utah Policy.com every Monday.