February 7, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 25°F


As election nears, no clear winner in recent debates

In the past couple of weeks we have seen all four of the presidential and vice presidential debates that mark the final push at the closing of election season. With just more than a week left before Americans across the nation cast their votes Nov. 6, I think it is safe to say we have seen all we are going to see.

That said, it is now time for our debate recap. Before the debates, many voters, particularly undecideds, were waiting to see what our candidates would say when put on the spot. Even in the wake of the Mitt Romney 47 percent video gaffe, voters held out to see what outcomes the head-to-head competitions would reap.

In the first debate on Oct. 4, we witnessed a distracted President Barack Obama get swept away by Gov. Romney. The majority of Americans and the media declared Romney the winner of the debate, after sparing more aptly on the topics of the economy, jobs and unemployment. As a result, Romney, in an unprecedented post-debate leap, managed to close four-point gap Obama created following his Democratic National Convention success. This debate showed us that there is definitely something to be said for performance. While Obama made a valid point saying Romney would have a hard time cutting both taxes and the deficit, he didn’t yell loudly enough. Most fact-checkers have verified that Romney was misleading on many issues, namely cutting taxes for the middle class; but he conducted himself in such a confident way that even Obama had let him become the champion of small business by 10 p.m.

The second debate on Oct. 11 was between vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Many voters were particularly interested to hear their stances on social topics like abortion and contraception, as both are strict practicing Catholics. Overall, while Ryan believes religion should tie directly into policy, Biden prefers to leave it solely for private life. According to a CNN poll, nearly half of people watching the debate called Ryan the winner; according to TIME and CBS polls, Biden won it. So who’s to say? Let’s call it a draw and move on.

During the third debate on Oct. 16, we saw a new Obama. He won several points when calling Romney out on topics like turning Medicare into a voucher program. Romney particularly lost steam when answering questions regarding women. He made his latest gaffe by saying as governor of Massachusetts, he went to several women’s groups after finding out there were few women in senior-level government positions and asked them to bring him “binders full of women” qualified for cabinet positions. Not only was this story false, but the 77 percent pay gap is a serious issue. Additionally, Romney suggested the answer to gun control was reducing the culture of violence by encouraging single women to get married. There has been no correlation found between marriage and gun violence.

The fourth debate, held Monday, had an overarching topic of foreign policy. Main topics included China’s currency manipulation and winding down wars in the Middle East. However, barely any other regions or topics were discussed. Libya and drones in Pakistan were mentioned briefly and the Eurozone crisis completely ignored. Moreover, we saw the president’s real foreign policy expertise, as Romney agreed loudly with nearly every accomplishment Obama presented. Much like the president, Romney sees opportunity in Syria, supports Iranian sanctions to deter its nuclear program and would stand with Israel if it were attacked.

Overall, it seems the debate scores are more complex than many undecideds would prefer. According to the New York Times’ electoral outlook, Obama is slated to win the overall election by a slim margin. However, a recent Gallup poll suggests there is a discrepancy between registered and likely voters that puts Romney slightly in the lead.

I can think of only one thing left to say: vote. Be heard or hold your complaints until 2016.