Aug. 17, 2016 — The Commission on Presidential Debates has now provided more specific criteria pertaining to who will be invited to participate in the four presidential and vice presidential debates that are scheduled to begin Sept. 26.
Long ago, the commission members decided that the main qualification for national debate series participation is an arbitrary standing derived from a number of previously undetermined political surveys. Earlier reports indicated that only candidates obtaining 15 percent popular support as determined from the designated polls would be included.
Yesterday, in little way of surprise, the commission members announced that the official debate polls will be: ABC News/ Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal.
These polls, all using the same methodology in terms of sample size – normally around the 1,000 registered voter mark nationally – will likely continue to produce similar numbers. Therefore, it will be very difficult for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, and almost impossible for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, to consistently reach the 15 percent plateau.
Several points of agreement came from last night’s post-debate analysis of the presidential forum from the University of Denver.
First, commentators from both the left and right were relatively unanimous in their analysis that Republican nominee Mitt Romney was the aggressor and took better command of the debate than a more subdued Pres. Barack Obama. Liberal commentator Chris Matthews went so far as to say the President should watch his MSNBC show and other such programs to better learn how to respond to partisan Republican arguments.
Additionally, there appears to be general agreement that the President not having to directly face a political opponent in four years showed. Some said the incumbent always is at a disadvantage in these types of forums because he must defend his current record. Others echoed statements that expectations were very high for Obama and that he failed to meet them. Most said Romney probably tightened the race because of his performance.
Another area of agreement concerned a generally weak and poor performance from moderator Jim Lehrer. Ironically, his failure to manage the time properly and stop both candidates from exceeding their answer limits actually might have made for a truer debate because there was more direct interaction between the two men. As an amusing aside, Obama campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter went a bit further in her criticism of Lehrer. She said, “I sometimes wondered if we even needed a moderator because we had Mitt Romney.”