Presidential debates meet with overwhelmingly negative response

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By: Jessica Brown; Bath-DeWitt Connection staff writer

DeWitt, MI – Many DeWitt residents are criticizing both presidential candidates as the Nov. 6 general election approaches.

President Barack Obama and challenger Gov. Mitt Romney are about to wrap up this election’s series of debates on Monday, Oct. 22 and it will be their last chance to win over much of the general public.

The candidates faced off twice earlier this month, tackling the issues of both foreign and domestic policy. Their performance has been described as lackluster by many.

“I’ve been voting for over 50 years and these debates were the same old, same old,” said Anna Konecki, longtime DeWitt resident. “In fact, all they did was bicker back and forth, it was kind of embarrassing and I ended up turning off my television.”

Credit: Jessica Brown

Only one individual managed to stay tuned for the majority of the third debate in a random survey of 20 DeWitt citizens of a variety of age groups.


“The entire thing was a lot of each candidate calling each other out instead of telling me what they were personally going to do once in office,” Josh Vaughn said. “It wasn’t very insightful. I’m not even sure why I watched as much as I did.”

Do the debates make a difference?

People no longer feel the need to set aside time specifically to view the debates with information so readily available on the Internet. Add that to the fact that most believe viewers have already decided who to vote for the debates even air and you have a recipe for little debate enthusiasm.

“I’m a steadfast Democrat so I didn’t bother to watch,” said Susie Tropp, DeWitt business owner. “I just read about it after.”

“Most people have their mind made up already and I really don’t think the debates do much to change that,” Tropp said. “Maybe a little for a few undecided voters but overall, they can’t have much effect.”

Credit: Jessica Brown

Of the 20 people surveyed only a quarter of them watched the previous debate on Tuesday, Oct. 16.  The fact that the Detroit Tigers were in the playoffs may have had something to do it.

Larry Jerue, DeWitt Chief of Police, said he watched the Tiger’s game instead.

“I watched the big game instead of the debate,” Jerue said. “I did, however, do a lot reading online the next day to follow up with it. It’s so easy to find out what happened these days, actually watching [the debates] doesn’t seem as necessary as it used to be.”

News organizations across the country have reviewed the presidential debates in a negative light this year and mid-Michigan citizens agree.

“The debates have been unproductive,” Jerue said. “They have become political cage fights where each side rolls up their sleeves and throws stones at the other.”


Influence of Facebook

Social media has also contributed to the lack of people watching the presidential debates this year. With so much information and the opinions of others readily available instantly, it’s easy for people to interpret how it went.

“The majority of my Facebook friends posted about it as it was happening,” said Sandy Bilingsley, DeWitt City Hall employee. “I was able to get a pretty good sense of how the beginning of the debate went even though I only managed to watch about a third of it.”

However, some said you cannot stand the amount of political banter on social media sites and have actually lost friends because of it.

“Just because I have a different opinion than you doesn’t mean you have to put me down,” Tropp said. “I don’t trust people’s political posts because half the time they aren’t supported by fact.”

When it comes to this election’s presidential debates it seems that most people have their voting minds made up. Many see the debates as unproductive.

What does this hold for the future of the debate world? We will just have to wait and see what the 2016 election brings.

Contact: Jessica Brown (734) 748-7361

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