Newswise — Beginning Oct. 3 in Denver, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney will have three chances to sell or salvage their presidential bids leading into the final month of campaigning, says a national expert on political debates.
Outstanding debate performances have made a difference in past years and the upcoming debates may well have a similar impact, says said David J. Lanoue, Columbus State University political science professor and co-author of The Joint Press Conference: The History, Impact, and Prospects of American Presidential Debates.
He said this year’s slate of debates could be history-making. They may provide Gov. Romney with his last and best opportunity to cut into the President's growing lead in the polls. Further, Lanoue's research suggests that Mr. Obama may be somewhat overrated as a debater, providing an opening for his Republican challenger.
“Debates can sometimes provide candidates with a measurable bump that can change the complexion of a close race, at least in the short term,” Lanoue said. “Debates likely played a meaningful role in the outcomes of the 1980 and 2000 elections, and may also have helped to shape the results in 1960, 1976, and 2004 (though the big winner in 2004, John Kerry, nevertheless fell short in November). They are, in that sense, worth paying attention to.”
Lanoue has published extensively on the topics of U.S. presidential elections and public opinion, and his comments on debates have appeared in media outlets around the world. The former chair of political science at the University of Alabama, he earned his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1986. He is now dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at Columbus State University.