Articles

The First Debate Could Be Decisive

September 24, 2008

Presidential debates are important — and the first debate is the most important of all, establishing an arc of opinion that persists unless jarred loose by big mistakes or dramatic events.

So whether this year's first presidential debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain is Friday night or postponed a few days, it may be the fall's most critical event. In the nine first debates since 1960, the perceived winner of the debate averaged a 4.2 point net swing in the Gallup poll.

Mr. Obama fought hard to have the first clash devoted to foreign policy and the last on the economy. It may be smart to end the series on his strongest turf. But that means the debates start on ground where Mr. McCain is more comfortable, having a sizable poll lead on who'd be a better commander in chief.

FULL ARTICLE: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122230655620873931.html
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