How to Watch a Debate

Here are some good tips on watching the debates from Alan Johnson, a reporter with The Columbus Dispatch (with extra comments by H.B. London).

  • Listen actively. Switch from a passive mode to a learning mode. Pay attention.
  • Focus on substance not style. It is not so much how they look and how they sound as it is the clarity of their plans and positions.
  • Ignore subtle and disruptive behavior. You have seen candidates twist questions to the point that no answer is ever really given. You need to listen for a response that represents your questions. Discount gamesmanship.
  • Keep an open mind. Sometimes I find myself wanting the debaters to say what I want them to say and discounting the other person, even if he or she makes sense. Do you? My political bias many times gets in the way.
  • Turn off the TV when the debate is over. The spin zone and post-debate analysis are designed to influence you. Make up your own mind.
  • Give your own grade. Be objective. Weigh the significance of the issues. The polls are for the masses — the debate is for you.

HT: The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing

Related post: Fact Checking the Palin/Biden Debate


  1. Larry Geiger says:

    #5. Turn off the TV before the debate. Get a transcript and read it. Then you don’t have to worry about #1, #2 or #3.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Larry – That’s pretty good! Of course, then I would need to change the title of the post to something different than, “How to Watch a Debate.” 🙂

    Actually, I do like to hear the candidates speak rather than just read the content later. A person’s body language and vocal inflections communicate a lot along with their words.

  3. Ray Fowler says:

    Larry – Thanks for the link!

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  1. Fact Checking the Palin/Biden Debate at Ray Fowler .org

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