Debating the Debates

Does the present format produce insights or distortions?

Proposition: Debates between presidential candidates are a useful and informative feature of campaigns and should be a quadrennial fixture of American politics. Affirmative case: The debates attract an enormous TV audience, thus stimulating a healthy interest in public affairs. They give voters their only chance to see the candidates side by side and compare them; they offer candidates their sole opportunity to make a sustained pitch to voters committed or leaning to the other side, who would ordinarily shun their rallies and ignore their TV...

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