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Sunday Poll: Should The Polling Threshold For Presidential Debates Be Changed?

July 31, 2016 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll 6 Comments
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The two major parties have now nominated their candidates for the general election. Another election between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. But some think the rules governing the presidential debates should be revised so candidates beyond the Republican & Democratic nominees could participate:

In a forum at the University of Minnesota Monday, Stanford professor Larry Diamond and Republican heavyweight Vin Weber made a strong, interesting case for changes to the rules for presidential debates that would make it easier, and perhaps automatic, to expand the cast to at least three candidates in the fall debates.

The current Republican-Democratic duopoly is “embarrassingly undemocratic,” Diamond said, and the fact that the commission that runs the debates is dominated by representatives of the two parties, who have no real interest in expanding the choices presented to the public, “doesn’t pass the smell test” and is “not defensible.”

More voters now identify themselves as independents than as Democrats or Republicans, Weber said. If the two current frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are the major-party nominees, the debate between them would feature two candidates who have higher unfavorable than favorable ratings, he noted. If the only two candidates on the debate stage are Clinton and Trump, a lot of Americans will be wondering why they can’t have other choices, he said. (Minnesota Post: Why we need more than two candidates at presidential debates)

As of 2000, the rules require a 15% polling threshold to participate.

This poll will close at 8pm,

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mark-AL says:

    I agree with your argument. But I question (what I interpret to be ) your major premise which I think assigns too much importance on the presidential debates. I personally don’t watch them, and I wonder how many other Americans, who do watch them, find them to be informative and productive vs just entertaining, especially this time around! I’ve longed questioned if the “2 party system” is as important and relevant today as it was before the internet and social media. We no longer need “the other party” to keep track of the incumbent party’s antics. We can take care of that ourselves. We’ve come of age, and we are informed. Politicians whom we elect, whether they’re conservative, liberal, socialists, or whatever, can maintain the necessary checks and balances to protect and reflect the constituency that elected them. So why not rework the political structure, allow 4 or 5 or 6 “individuals” to be nominated, then weed out the deadwood during the course of the campaign, so that in the end maybe 3 individuals are placed on the ballot for vote–and eliminate the political party name entirely? The hypocrisy of the current system is so evident during the primaries, when one candidate defames and blisters his opponent, then exalts him/her during the national election. How stupid are we to allow that to happen without ejecting the turncoat from the convention all together! I know very few people who are die-hard conservatives or die-hard liberals. I wonder how many of them are really out there. So why are we expected to support a particular candidate who is compelled to support a ticket that probably doesn’t accurately support a majority of their constituency, in every case? I may be a “democrat.” in my heart, but if I don’t support pro-choice, I will NEVER be able to support a democratic candidate who does. Surely there’s a better way.

  2. Darknight says:

    I see zero point in giving a stage to those who have absolutely no mathematical chance of winning the election. In addition to that, over two sides isn’t a debate it’s a series of “gotcha” statements with no real meaningful discourse.

    • Mark-AL says:

      I question how or if the number of debaters has anything to do with the efficacy or potency of the debate, provided the debate is well orchestrated. And I see no reason why such a debate would necessarily advance or generate any more or fewer “gotcha” statements. Can you explain your position?

      • Darknight says:

        I’m stating an opinion, not a peer-reviewed fact. But just thinking back to the cacophony of the early primary debates that devolved into madness. Your point is well taken re: “well orchestrated”, but much of the running time of those consisted of Candidate A saying something outrageous/boneheaded, and the next ten minutes was Candidate B – J being asked “What do you think of what Candidate A just said?!!” rather than more substantive issues.

        Some thoughts from the Right and Left on this issue:
        “That’s a very, very difficult task, a dauntingly difficult task. And, in my view, it should be,” he said.
        “We don’t want to treat presidential debates as the audition platform for the next-out party. If the Libertarians have not been successful at establishing a large base, they need to get that work done.”

        “Trump does better in multi-person debates than one-on-ones. They’re much less debates in any real sense. They’re more like parallel taunt contests. The multi-person format also makes it easier to avoid policy detail. What’s more, Stein would certainly work with Trump in tag-teaming Hillary Clinton, putting her under fire from both the left and right. Johnson’s role is more uncertain. He less of an attack dog by temperament. And who he’d have more interest in attacking is less clear than it might seem. I’m sure Clinton would weather such a debate. But it’s clearly a less attractive option for her that a one on one with Trump.”

        In summary, my feeling is that third party candidates need to establish their relevance long before any debate stage. You have to establish a cutoff somewhere and my feel is it’s in about the right place now at 15%. Combining that with my perception that fewer debaters equals more substantive debate.


        • Mark-AL says:

          I support whatever format or process fully exposes the candidates to the voters so that voters can experience the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and positions on relevant issues. Under the current 2-party process, that’s really impossible. Candidates are almost compelled to espouse the principles and positions of ‘their party’. And we have no way of knowing if a particular candidate actually believes what he is saying. Hilliary Clinton, for example, appears to support Roe vs Wade, but yet she constantly campaigns for the US to address distressed communities and generational poverty and in general, she calls for the US to respond generously to those of us who are suffering—and yet, her party supports Roe vs Wade and obviously doesn’t care to extend institutionalized protections to the living person living in a pregnant woman’s belly! But I wonder if Hilliary isn’t just too compassionate to actually support such a position that legalizes murder! I certainly hope so!

          RE: Your other point: I wonder if our debate system should be structured to address the comfort level of the debaters.

        • JZ71 says:

          While two may be ideal, and 14 is certainly too many, a debate with 3, 4, 5 or 6 can be both informative and something that won’t take hours to get through. The problem with limiting it to just 2 or 3 is that 4 or 5 can be just as well qualified, just not as well financed as the early leaders.


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