Is there effectiveness to presidential debates?

Voters are looking at debates in a much different way than in years past.

Some experts say it is a result of the divisiveness in our country and current leadership.

“In many respects this is much more like a football game between Oklahoma and Texas where by everyone is rooting for either Oklahoma or Texas. There are very few people who are undecided between the two teams and that is the way most of the debate audience will be,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University. “In an idea world, voters would come in to the debate with open minds. In a polarized world, most people have made up their minds in terms of Trump or Joe Biden by now. Very few are going to be persuaded one way or another.”

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In the series of debates, Jones says there are key points to keep in mind for undecided voters.

Jones said, “Two things to look out for is, are any of Donald Trump's critics of Biden and his cognitive ability legitimate or not and does Biden look like someone that would be able to serve a full four-year term?”


Marcus Esther is a debate coach at Texas Southern University who had advice of his own for voters when it comes to judging the candidates.

“First we need to see which candidate displays the most confidence. No matter what. We need to listen to someone who has confidence behind their platform. The second thing we should listen to is substance. We need to see the substance behind each candidate's plan. More particular we need to hear the policies behind each plan,” said Esther.