The first of three presidential debates is scheduled for this Friday, the 26th of September. We can expect to see the two campaigns positioning themselves and trying to manipulate (lower) expectations in the coming days, and we can also expect the media to focus on how pivotal the debates might be to determining the contours of the remaining weeks of the campaign. These things will happen because of the high visibility nature of these one-night events and the relatively high stakes if one side or another does a lousy job.
But do debates really have much of an impact on the campaign? Are elections won or lost because of debate performances? Is there much of a debate bump? In Do Campaigns Matter? I argued that debates have relatively limited effects because they occur relatively late in the campaign, when opinions are less pliable, and because--unlike conventions--the information flow is relatively balanced, with both sides making their case.
FULL BLOG ENTRY: Debate Effects