Poll Position: How many debates for a presidential primary?

Last night brought us the 19th or 22nd — depending on how you count them — GOP presidential debate of 2011-12. It was the second this week and sixth this month.

Mercifully, there won’t be another for almost four weeks.

To say the networks have had to strain to keep things fresh would be an understatement of Newt-ly grandiose proportions. We were only two debates into the schedule when moderators tried the “This or That?” gimmick (as in: Elvis or Johnny Cash?). Last night, we were treated to questions about such issues of immediate national importance as lunar exploration, Puerto Rican statehood and why each candidate thought his wife would make a good first first lady. (Note that CNN was responsible both for these and “This or That?”, as well as the infamous debate-opening exchange between Newt Gingrich and moderator John King in South Carolina last week about allegations by Gingrich’s second wife that he’d asked her for an “open marriage.”)

How many debates should there have been in the GOP primary?

  • About half as many as there have been (56 Votes)
  • Just a few (27 Votes)
  • I wish there had been even more! (20 Votes)
  • We've had just the right number (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 116

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My multiple references to Gingrich are not accidental. Each time he’s stumbled on the campaign trail, debate performances have brought him back to the fore. Rick Perry, by contrast, had arguably the best resume of any candidate but was undone by his stumbles (”Oops”) on the debate stages. It’s quite reasonable to wonder if, had there been only a couple of debates rather than almost a couple of dozen, Perry might not have been sitting in Gingrich’s place and vice versa. And because debating skills are valued in presidential campaigns out of all proportion to their utility in presidencies, one also wonders if the current arrangement is really best.

On the other hand, no one can argue they haven’t had an opportunity to watch the candidates tackling a variety of topics that test their grasp of the issues, ability to think on their feet, temperament and discipline. So, were voters well-served by having so many debates, or did the number of forums waste our time and the candidates?

That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and in the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

115 comments Add your comment

GodHatesTrash, Superstar

January 27th, 2012
5:33 am

More debates, more lies and idiot remarks Obama can hang on these fools in the fall.

Keep ‘em coming.

GodHatesTrash, Superstar

January 27th, 2012
5:36 am

And, there has never been a bigger display of nit-wittery on display on American TV, except for maybe Three Stooges reruns – and Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Joel Edge

January 27th, 2012
6:13 am

The number of debates can be addressed. Quality is another problem. I’d rather see a long interview of standard questions. With plenty of time to elaborate.

GodHatesTrash, Superstar

January 27th, 2012
6:26 am

Let’s see – you could go to the zoo and watch the chimps beat their chests and fling their poo, or you could watch a GOP “presidential debate”.

Same darn thing.

DeborahinAthens

January 27th, 2012
6:47 am

The whole “season” is too long and ridiculous. The Presidential election cycle should not start until April of the election year. Candidates declare April 1. The amount of money spent should be severely limited. That goes for advertisements, especially. These ads are nauseating. There should be four debates that are real debates with real questions. What we have now is pap. It’s like all the newsmen and women become Kim Kardashian or Ashton Kutcher. I weep when I think of what could be done with the billions of dollars that these bozos spend on campaigning.

arnold

January 27th, 2012
6:52 am

Deborah, It won’t happen. However, I think you are correct. I agree with each point.

catlady

January 27th, 2012
6:53 am

Seems to me they have been a version of the Jerry Springer Show.

JF McNamara

January 27th, 2012
6:58 am

Debates are better than TV commercials. At least the candidates have to deliver their own lies. It’s obvious for most what the actually believe from their body language. The Newtser is the only problem. He’ll say anything and always seem convincing. Romney seems to have more character and almost winces at his own lies at times. Neither appears genuine, and you wouldn’t know that without a lot of debates.

Joe The Plumber too.

January 27th, 2012
7:01 am

godhates: “And, there has never been a bigger display of nit-wittery on display on American TV”, yep you are right, barry’s SOTU address on Tuesday was the biggest load of crap since his last one.

Ayn Rant

January 27th, 2012
7:05 am

A two month campaign season is long enough. The media will dig up all the dirt before the campaigning actually starts.

A couple of debates will give the voters ample opportunity to assess the vacuous proposals and flawed characters of the candidates.

Aquagirl

January 27th, 2012
7:23 am

Are you kidding? More of the GOP circular firing squad, please. Reality teevee has never been so entertaining.

Mad Max

January 27th, 2012
7:34 am

They are applying for the hardest job in America, if not the world. I think the more exposure the better. Everyone of them will make mistakes (which our brethren from the left just love to jump on) but it will show us which of them is capable of growing into the job. God knows we could have used more with the last presidential election on the Democratic side and just maybe Barack’s inexperience would have been exposed to the point that maybe the outcome would have been different. I think a better way of handling it is to push all the primaries and caucuses back to April through July with maybe 4 super Tuesdays and get rid of the all or nothing states with extended debates leading up to each. Then the conventions would be responsible for putting forth and publishing an agenda of the party so that everyone knows what the party is advocating. Then, hold 10 – 12 debates that focus on those platforms, qualifications of the 2 candidates and any current events. No BS “gotcha” questions from the media. No VP debates are needed please as they are a complete waste of time! Besides Cheney, what VP has ever had a major role in the administration?

ByteMe

January 27th, 2012
7:42 am

God knows we could have used more with the last presidential election on the Democratic side and just maybe Barack’s inexperience would have been exposed to the point that maybe the outcome would have been different

26 of them. That’s right. Facts are our friends. 26 democratic primary debates in 2008.

ByteMe

January 27th, 2012
7:47 am

The problem is the abundance of 24-hour “news” channels. They need compelling programming to keep people watching. Debates are sometimes compelling.

It’s like the NFL. Used to be 14 games and then 3 playoff weekends. Now the season is up to 17 weeks, 4 playoff weekends, all because we added two more networks to broadcast the games, so there’s more money by having more games.

If we don’t watch, they’ll stop scheduling them. Turn off the TV. Talk with your spouse, with your kids. Play a board game. Go to church. Do something that matters.

Cut the debates to 10 per party for the season.

Mad Max

January 27th, 2012
7:48 am

Byte – And BO was the result. Then there’s either a major flaw in how we select candidates or it’s become a Miss Universe contest. I suspect the later.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

January 27th, 2012
7:50 am

Facts are only your friends when they back up your position of the moment. :)

LKW4

January 27th, 2012
8:06 am

More debates. But I would like them to stick to real issues. I am tired of the immigration crap, and personal jabs. I want them to tell us how they are going to put Americans back to work. How are you as Prersident going to benifit me, a middle class American sinking into lower class America. How can a candidate for President make many millions and pay less taxes then I do? I don’t care how long you’ve been married, how many children or grandchildren you have. I don’t care about your personal issues with each other. Just stick to facts and tell us up front how you are going to try and fix this mess. What you are going to do for us Veterans and disabled Veterans that you keep taking things away from. How are you going to protect the elderly. I don’t want to hear any more Hope and Change garbage. I don’t want any more, we shoulds or we coulds, or talking around the question and not answering the question. I am really sick of Mitts crappy smile and then his justifications for why he hids things and lies. Imagine what he will do as president? Thats a scary thought!

MrLiberty

January 27th, 2012
8:22 am

These are not debates. They are comedic sideshows put on by the mainstream media in order to manipulate the electorate in favor of their choice of candidate. Equal time is NEVER given to all contenders, questions are inane (why would your wife make a good first lady?), and they have become little more than a childish battle between infants. That is of course except for the solid answers by Ron Paul on the grossly infrequent opportunities he has to comment.

When I ran for poltical office in 1992, every group event I participated in was a “candidate forum.” The same question was asked of all candidates and we were all given the same amount of time to respond. If you were stupid enough to waste your time bashing your opponents instead of answering the question, that was your loss. The public walked away knowing exactly where we stood and we all felt like the process was fair.

I have seen some wonderful 1 hour interviews with Ron Paul in which he was given adequate time to actually answer questions, explain his positions, and educate viewers. Though I don’t agree with their positions, I would imagine that the public would benefit from similar interviews with the other candidates as well. Same questionis,etc.

The media is an overall failure in the process. They have hand selected candidates that they support and do everything to undermine the others. Thankfully the alternative media is giving the public an opporutnity to learn the facts about a candidate since the media has done such a horrible job of this.

carlosgvv

January 27th, 2012
8:48 am

The networks have done everything possible to make every debate look as though it will be the deciding one. Their inane hype knows no bounds, Why? Because money talks.

gm

January 27th, 2012
8:56 am

To all the Latinos in Florida:

Please visist the southern states and you will see how southern whites feel about you.
Dont listen to Newt, he sat back the last 3 years and watch his state Ga treat hispanics like criminals and did not say a word, it was laughable watching this master hypocrite lying to these people, the rep party do not care about latinos or any other race.

jconservative

January 27th, 2012
9:00 am

I would say the debates serve a function. For example, the last two debates have put an end to the myth that only Newt can debate Obama.

Personally I had rather see a series of one on one interviews in a studio with each of the three broadcast networks. More depth in the answers.

phil stembridge

January 27th, 2012
9:14 am

obama is the top idiot

independent thinker

January 27th, 2012
9:17 am

I would like to see a debate of the future first ladies, Have Callista explain her views on family values.

clyde

January 27th, 2012
9:18 am

I just can’t imagine sitting around for endless hours listening to a bunch of wannabees tell lies.I don’t want to vote for any of them.They’re the sorriest bunch of candidates I’ve ever seen.What is the Republican Party thinking?Or not thinking? At this juncture in time I don’t care which one eventually gets to run for President.

Pass a law making July 4th the kick off date for the circus.Anyone mentioning it before that date goes to jail.

jconservative

January 27th, 2012
9:31 am

Here is the post Florida schedule for February and early March.

February 4, 2012 Nevada (caucus)

February 4–11, 2012 Maine (caucus)

February 7, 2012 Colorado (caucus)
Minnesota (caucus)
Missouri (primary) – *Primary does not award delegates, that will be done is a 3/17 caucus.

February 28, 2012 Arizona (primary)
Michigan (primary)

March 3, 2012 Washington (caucus

Then Super Tuesday on Match 6.

Note all the caucus votes in February. Organization, organization, organization.

retired early

January 27th, 2012
9:33 am

Why can’t we have extended interviews with each candidate and let them explain their policy positions to a panel of “experts”. These experts could then explain to the audience how these policies would effect the economy, the deficit, environmental issues, etc.
Now, all we get is 9-9-9 and “eliminate capital gains taxes”, “make the Bush tax cuts permanent”.
These policies that sound good to the voters, never get challenged during these debates. Make these candidates live or die based on what their policies would do to this country…and quit giving them a “free ride”.

Road Scholar

January 27th, 2012
9:39 am

Do you really think Americans would sit there beyond the one liners and attacks to listen to detailed analysis of how each candidate would govern and address all pertinent topics? Do they have an attention span beyond a small child’s? To really listen? I really would like them to get into the weeds to explain there positions, but the press (from the “evil” liberal to the “we have all the answers but we won’t run” conservative)doesn’t like to research pertinent details. Or at least have the candidates write something of detail on each position.

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
9:53 am

Anyone want to talk about Obozo’s poll numbers dropping again?

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
9:53 am

“Let’s see – you could go to the zoo and watch the chimps beat their chests and fling their poo, or you could watch a GOP “presidential debate”.”

Racist.

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
9:55 am

Uh yeah, the entire Democrat Party is a bunch of food stamp dependents.

Is President Obama Creating A Nation Of Dependents?

http://news.investors.com/Article/598993/201201260805/entitlements-soar-under-president-obama.htm

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
9:55 am

Why Obozo will lose.

1.7%

That’s the final, pathetic growth number for 2011.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/2011-gdp-2012-1#ixzz1kfdwFVKK

retired early

January 27th, 2012
9:55 am

Road

You are absolutely right…as usual.
While you and I would listen to a lengthy debate, the “already made up their minds and just need someone to help me to rationalize that choice, voter”; would refuse to be “educated”, if it meant that could change their minds.

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
9:56 am

Sinking ship….sinking ship…..sinking ship….

President Obama tries to push past Solyndra

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/72058.html

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
9:57 am

Obozo the hypocrite.

President Obama leaves event promoting clean energy in a motorcade of 22 fossil-fueled vehicles

http://nevadajournal.com/2012/01/26/president-obama-leaves-event-promoting-clean-energy-motorcade-22-fossil-fueled-vehicles/

UGA 1999

January 27th, 2012
9:58 am

I do feel like there have been many. There are two points of view here. One is that it is wasiting time and we are hearing the same things over and over again. The other is that we are trying to find out everything about a candidate prior to the election.

wallbanger

January 27th, 2012
9:58 am

The debates have become a three ring circus. The Republican party should not have allowed so many debates, and the candidates should remain on topic: Speak to the tax reform issue, how entitlements can or can’t be supported, what to do about revising social security for the long term, how to disincentivize baby mama production, and how to incentivize people to stay in school and work for their own living rather than be government dependent.

UGA 1999

January 27th, 2012
10:03 am

wallbanger….they candidates have attempted to stay on target. It is the mediator that keeps making the personal attacks continue.

retired early

January 27th, 2012
10:03 am

Somewhere

The stock market is near it’s all time high…..guess Obama caused the economy to collapse in 2008, but had nothing to do with the current optimism in the stock market.
BTW, calling our sitting president names just tells us you have no respect for the office of the presidency….
OK…..now light up the blog with your racist bs….I’m waiting….

UGA 1999

January 27th, 2012
10:04 am

retired….but THAT IS NOT THE ONLY INDICATOR! Remember the stock market are those evil rich stock brokers on Wall Street. So which is it? Are you with them or against them? Figure it out.

MarkV

January 27th, 2012
10:07 am

Somewhere over there – the simpleton.
(@9:57 am)

clyde

January 27th, 2012
10:08 am

Road @9:39—–I would certainly like to see a detailed platform from each candidate.I could listen to the hows and whys for hours.Trouble is,there are too few hows and whys.

UGA 1999

January 27th, 2012
10:08 am

retired….why do you choose to forget the $3.60 gas? The 9% unemployment. The $15 Trillion in debt…..etc?

retired early

January 27th, 2012
10:18 am

UGA

You have made up your mind about Obama, you blame all the “bad” on him, while never giving him credit for the “good”.
I know it is a waste of time “debating” the real issues with someone who blames “gas prices” on “any sitting president”…other than Carter, during the “oil embargo” back in ‘79.
The truth does not influence your opinions.
Good day all…..

clyde

January 27th, 2012
10:20 am

Retired@10:03—– I ,for one,have a lot of respect for the Office of The President of The United States.I just don’t have any respect for the man now occupying it.

UGA 1999

January 27th, 2012
10:21 am

retired….you assume too much. The reason I blame all of the bad on him is because it is HIS responsibility to right the ship. He has not, if anything he is making it worse by increasing the class warfare rhetoric.

Ok tell me what Obmaa has done to lower gas prices? He has threatened to eliminate the subsidies. He wouldnt pass the Keystone pipeline. He said during his campaigning that he beleived that gas should be $5 per gallon.

Tell me what truth I am missing?!?!?!?!

Your blind faith in a man that is toxic for this country is showing your ignorance.

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
10:21 am

“The stock market is near it’s all time high”

16,000? Nope, try again.

“BTW, calling our sitting president names just tells us you have no respect for the office of the presidency….”

No, I just don’t have respect for him. Sort of like your kind calling Bush, Chimp in chief.

“now light up the blog with your racist bs”

Yeah, when one can’t debate, they call other people a racist. Good job, Jesse Jackson.

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
10:21 am

“Somewhere over there – the simpleton.”

Try again, cupcake.

redneckbluedog

January 27th, 2012
10:23 am

I am DONE with Presidential politics for the next 4 years (except for stirring up trouble)……My interests ARE NOT being represented……

You have MItt “Tax Shelter” Romney….whom the President will WIPE THE FLOOR WITH in the fall….You have Gingrich….NAAAAA…..you have Barack “The Socialist” Obama and Mitch “Barack Obama” Daniels…who isn’t even running…..and finally….Gary “Let All the Immigrants In” Johnson and Ron Paul…….SORRY…NOT INTERESTED…..I could possibly write in a Tom Tancredo/Joe Arpaio ticket…!!!!!

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
10:23 am

“You have made up your mind about Obama, you blame all the “bad” on him, while never giving him credit for the “good”.”

So what “good” has he done for the country?

Come on, cupcake.

Somewhere over there

January 27th, 2012
10:24 am

redneckbluedog

So you won’t be voting for Obama again?