A recent U.S. News article asked do debates matter? (Source: http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2015/11/13/do-presidential-debates-matter). The U.S. News is not the first nor will they be the last paper to talk about this issue. Recent memory serves that debates can cause a candidate to rise (Carly Fiorina in this years GOP debate) or fall (Rick Perry in the 2012 GOP primary). The goal of a debate for the candidates should be to just get through it.
When I just mentioned Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry could you recall the events of which I was referring to? My guess would be that many would recall the event of Rick Perry where he could not remember the three branches he wised to eliminate or where he bet Mitt Romney 10k, both of which became the downfall to Rick Perry in his 2012 run for president. In my reference to Carly Fiorina, I was referring to her strong debate performance in the August GOP debate. Fiorina’s strong performance bolted her to the main stage for the next debate. Mrs. Fiorina’s success was short lived and the momentum faded as she has now fallen back into the lower half of the GOP field. These are just two simply examples to show the point that debates matter but they don’t.
Campaigns can get the jolt they need from a strong debate performance and see success in the polls. On the other hand, campaigns can be severely harmed by poor debate performances. Jeb Bush was flat thus far in this years first few debates and his poll numbers reflected accordingly. Mr. Bush has since turned in some fair debate performances but still finds himself in the middle of the GOP field.
As the clear front-runner in the Democratic field, Mrs. Clinton has given solid debate performances so far. Mrs. Clinton’s main rival Bernie Sanders has performed very well in the debates also. Until recently Mrs. Clinton had her focus on the GOP field and went after the GOP field in the debates, but her attention has now turned to focus on Mr. Sanders. Mr. Sanders is closing in on Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and currently is leading her in New Hampshire. With another debate coming up, Mr. Sanders needs to perform well and hope that Mrs. Clinton turns in a poor performance to make some more gains on her.
Overall all, Debates are something that candidates must go through, as it is part of the process in choosing a nominee. As general advice to a candidate, he or she should just get through it without any stumbles to give a solid debate performance (this does not apply to everyone). A solid performance can keep one’s presidential hopes alive but a stumble could cost it.