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To Debate or Not To Debate? Here Are Some Answers

Monday, October 11, 2010

Candidates across the country are holding debates or arguing over whether to have them, but political debates are a mixed bag as far as most voters are concerned.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters say they have watched at least one candidate debate this campaign season. But nearly as many (45%) have not. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

However, 49% find most political debates to be informative. Thirty-six percent (36%) think most of them are useless. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.

Among those who say they are following the midterm elections very closely, 66% say they have watched candidate debates this election cycle. But just 51% say most debates are informative.

As a practical matter, candidates who are behind tend to see debates as a chance to shake up the race while those who are ahead see them as an potential obstacle to be avoided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on October 8-9, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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