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Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Debates?

Not the conservative and Tea Party activists who voted in our CHQ Poll.  By a 2-to-1 margin, they say the debates have helped the GOP, the conservative cause, and the Tea Party.

We asked you:  “Are the presidential debates helping or hurting the Republican Party, the conservative cause, and the Tea Party? They are the defining characteristic of this electoral cycle, but do they hurt because of all the round-robin criticism of the candidates, or help by making the eventual nominee a stronger candidate?  On balance, do you think they help or hurt?”

Here is how you responded:

58%  Help

29%  Hurt

13%  Undecided

While the Republican candidates cut each other up in their debates, Democrat-sympathizing commentators are smugly tsk-tsking like small-town gossips about how rowdy and uncivilized those conservatives are, but comforting themselves that lower-class folk like that can never win after exposing themselves that way.  In an atmosphere dominated by commentary like that, it would be easy to conclude that the debates have hurt the Republicans and their conservative, Tea Party base.

Our poll respondents are to be congratulated for seeing beyond such first impressions.  Yes, debates are messy.  So are primaries and democracy.  But running for president is a tough game, and they help the party weed out the weak and find its voice for the coming campaign against a well-financed incumbency.  There’s no guarantee that the best man or woman will win, and there’s no guarantee that the party’s eventual message will deserve to win.  But there’s a better chance with debates and primaries than there would be in an establishment-dominated insider-brokered convention.

It’s the Democrats who are hurt by a lack of debates and primary fights.  They are saddled with a president whose leadership acumen bears comparison only to Jimmy Carter, and whose major policy positions have appalled their base.  There is plenty of dissent in the Democratic Party, but it has nowhere to go. 

We shall see by November 2012 which approach best motivates a party’s base to achieve victory.  Until then, don’t knock the debates, primaries, and democracy.

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Republican Debates

Some of the rhetoric during the debates was rough on the other candidates. Apearing to be enemies they

exposed, among other things personality traits that needed to be seen. If any of them seemed to cave in

under this "light weight" pressure what chance would they have aginst a full press onslaught from the other

side of the aisle? The debates were good, for them and for us. If the GOP is going to unseat Obama in 2012

they better get their strong points out to the voters and let the opposition twist in the breeze.