Political debates occur when political parties, individuals, and organizations with varying political positions use a given arena to discuss and argue political agendas, policy and issues. This arena can vary from internet forums between individuals to presidential debates televised and broad casted from major television stations. A political debate will focus on major issues including social and economic issues as well as foreign policy. Topics that are often discussed in political debates today are abortion, gay marriage, the economy, foreign policy and the war in Iraq, gun control, taxes and health care. Political debates can often become heated and provides the candidates with an opportunity to voice their stance on important issues. It also gives their opponents the opportunity to argue their points and use past facts to expose lies. Political debates are not a new device, they have been used throughout history as a means of arguing one’s platform and undercutting one’s opponent. Publications of the 1859 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglass can still be found today.
The most famous type of political debate is the presidential debates. Some of the most important political debates in the history of the United States occurred during the 2008 presidential elections. The Primary Democratic debates, which took place between Senator Hilary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama included the first woman to run for spot in the presidential election and the first African-American to run for a spot in the presidential election. Millions of Americans tuned in to witness the exchange between these two incredible people. Major topics that were of interest in the 2008 political debate included health care, the economy, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were four different debates that took place in September and October 2008. Three of these debates were between the candidates running for president, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. One of the debates was between the candidates running for vice president, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Two of the debates between the presidential candidates is ninety minutes long. The candidates are asked a question and given time to answer and speak directly with one another. The third debate between the presidential candidates allowed voters to pose the questions that the candidates answered. The way that a candidate presents himself in a debate may greatly alter the amount of support he gets from the voters and ultimately determine the election. After the debate CBS conducted a poll in which they asked viewers who they felt had won the debate. 40% of the viewers felt that President Obama won the debate, while only 22% thought that senator McCain won the debate. It was estimated that 52.4 million people tuned in to watch the 2008 presidential debate.
Though presidential debates are the most common type of political debates, they are not the only form of political debate that occurs. Informal political debates occur on a daily basis in person or on the internet. There are hundreds of political blogs and political forums that cater solely to debates. This illustrates the important role that politics plays in individuals everyday lives.