Expert says debate doesn’t matter, people’s minds already made u - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Expert says debate doesn’t matter, people’s minds already made up

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- The first presidential debate is just two days away, but a local political expert says most people's minds are already made up regardless of what happens during the debate.

On Wednesday, President Obama and Republican challenger Governor Romney will take to the stage for the first presidential debate.  UW-Eau Claire Political Expert Geoff Peterson says both candidates are going in with drastically different game plans.

"I think the Romney people assume they need to come out swinging; that they need to make up some difference.  They can maybe bring the polls closer with a really strong debate," Peterson says.  "I think Obama is going to be more defensive.  He's seeing it as something he doesn't want to lose rather than something he wants to win.  I would expect Romney to be on the attack more.  I would expect Obama to spend less time talking about Romney and more time talking about the country."

Both sides are downplaying the importance of the debate.  But Peterson says that's pretty common.

"You always want to downplay the importance of the debate so that if your candidate screws up, people don't say oh there it is, that's the end of the road," laughs Peterson.

So how important are these debates? Can they swing an election?

"Political science research shows that most people see in the debate what they already want to see," Peterson points out.  "If you go into the debate as a Democrat, you are going to see Romney doing badly; you are going to see Obama doing well.  And if you go into it as a Republican, you are going to see vice-versa.  Debates rarely make a big difference in terms of how elections come out unless someone does something really stupid."

The debate will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday evening.  Vice President Biden and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan will have their turn to debate against one another on October 11th.

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