Are the US Presidential Debates broken?


Well, there probably won't be any chuckles at tonight's 3rd and final U.S. Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But with just two weeks to go til voting day, the race for president couldn't be tighter--at least according to pollsters. So a lot will be on the line at tonight's foreign policy debate. Or will it? Today, we're asking what's really accomplished in these face-to-face face offs.

Are the US Presidential Debates broken? - Panel

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney square off for the third and final Presidential debate tonight. But there's something especially revealing about this particular commentary, which is the result of a prank pulled that we started our segment with by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, right before the last debate.

The fact that U.S. voters are willing to make forceful conclusions about a political punch-up they never even saw certainly undermines confidence in the influence of debates. There's the leaked copy of the terms both campaigns agreed to for last week's town-hall debate ... the moderator was forbidden to ask follow-up questions and would cut-off any audience member who tried to ask a question that wasn't pre-screened. And then there's the fact that Honey Boo Boo attracted more viewers.

It's all led us to mount our own debate: Be it resolved that the US Presidential debates no longer a useful forum for questioning candidates on important issues.

Arguing in favour of the resolution is Jeff Milchen, co-founder and board member of Reclaim Democracy. He was in Bozeman, Montana.

And arguing against the resolution is Diana Carlin. She's a professor of communication at St. Louis University, where she teaches a course on political debates. And she has done extensive focus group testing and content analysis of past Presidential Debates.

So, who do you think won our debate? Cast your vote below:

You can also let us know on Facebook or twitter, where we are @thecurrentcbc.

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Gord Westmacott.

Other segments from today's show:

CRTC's bid to create a national code of conduct for wireless companies

Iranians suffering under International Sanctions